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I have a tendency to say things like:

It was nice with cake.

Usually it's in the form of:

It was adjective with noun.

whereas my wife is always correcting me to:

It was nice to have cake.

I agree that the latter is correct, but I was wondering whether the use of “with” is horrible grammar.

  • You've probably taken the use of with meaning having, in possession of and extended it. Modern English speakers tend to say there was a man with a shovel instead of there was a man having a shovel; my guess is that you are unwittingly extending this usage. – Anonym Oct 2 '14 at 13:33
  • I don't understand your wife's correction. Maybe she means you should say "It was nice to have it with cake". That would mean the same as "It was nice with cake", but it's slightly more explicit. I'm assuming that "it" refers to some other food or to a meal. I'm not sure that's right. – Greg Lee Mar 1 '15 at 16:06
  • "It was nice with cake" is a very unclear formulation. – rogermue May 31 '15 at 4:23
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  1. It was nice with cake.

  2. It was nice to have cake.

In the first sentence, the it is referring to something, probably food, like icecream or some strawberries. You are saying that one food tastes good when eaten with another.

In the second sentence, the it doesn't refer to anything. It's like the it in "it's raining". It means that you enjoyed eating cake not long before.

You can't swap around those meanings. So if you say the first but mean the second then that is nonstandard English.

  • For example, this morning I said: "It was nice with a cuddle." It should have been: "It was nice to have a cuddle."? – Invoke Oct 2 '14 at 12:33
  • @Invoke I've never heard the former used before, and I don't think it's correct. The only way it works with cake is if you're referring to some other dish you literally had "with cake." – PlasmaStarfish Dec 27 '15 at 4:04

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