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I encountered a problem having to do with the connection…

vs.

I encountered a problem to do with the connection…

Is the second option a legitimate expression?

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While you're at it, drop the "to do" as well. "I encountered a problem with the connection." –  RegDwigнt Jan 19 '11 at 16:15
    
@RegDwight: +1 for suggesting Strunk & White. –  Andy Jan 19 '11 at 19:53
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3 Answers 3

I think that either of these is acceptable:

I encountered a problem having to do with the connection.

I encountered a problem with the connection.

The variant that includes to do but not having may be used by some people, but it's much less common.

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I suspect this is a US-UK variation: I am from the UK and "to do with" sounds a lot better to me (and indeed I don't think I would ever say "having to do with"). –  psmears Jan 19 '11 at 22:21
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To do with exists, though in my (US) experience it's far less common than having to do with. (But in the particular example you give, I encountered a problem having to do with the connection, I agree with RegDwight's comment that having to do should be dropped altogether.)

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To me, the first expression sounds like something a less informed person would say to sound like they are well-informed. The second expression sounds like something I would expect from a non-native English speaker. RegDwight's recommendation to drop the whole clause is correct.

The phrase "having to do with" really means 'related to', 'concerning', 'about', or, more simply, 'with', and it should be replaced with one of the simpler forms.

Consider these variations: "I have a theory about the formation of stars" vs. "I have a theory having to do with the formation of stars."

"There is an issue related to your bank statement" vs. "There is an issue having to do with your bank statement."

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Where are you from? The "to do with" version sounds fine to me (native speaker from the UK) - I wonder if this is a regional thing... –  psmears Jan 19 '11 at 22:28
    
Midwestern US. I suspect that the strong Calvinist roots in this part of the country encourage people to use more direct language without flourishes. –  oosterwal Jan 19 '11 at 22:47
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