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So, fine with me is the standard way to say it.

But fine by me is ok, and dictionaries confirm that. The only mention that it should not be used is here: https://english.stackexchange.com/a/37205/19577

  • But what is the background of fine by me? Is it rude/redneck/chav/kid/archaic/odd ?
  • What would be an impression about the speaker, when the person is using fine by me?
  • Can you use it in business correspondence ?
  • 4
    I assume by the standard way to say it you mean the form usually used by Americans. In the UK we usually use by. It's not rude or archaic - just informal (so you probably don't want to use it in business correspondence). Your link is to a non-native speaker ELU user, so take no notice of what it suggests to him. – FumbleFingers Apr 7 '15 at 16:11
  • @FumbleFingers: and even though that's fine by me is more common in BrE, it seems to be predated by that's okay by me, which I would assume is originally an American expression. – Peter Shor Apr 7 '15 at 16:44
  • 1
    @Peter: It's fine by me if it turns out you guys "invented" the usage originally, but that NGram only really shows significant uptake. I'm sure there are earlier written instances, but I did notice this one (which is obviously American because it's talking about money in $'s). That's a C19 American using the form Fine by me to mean I have no problem with that. – FumbleFingers Apr 7 '15 at 17:12
  • @FumbleFingers: if you search for 1995 in that instance, you find out that this is the real year of publication. – Peter Shor Apr 7 '15 at 19:55
  • 3
    ...so here's a better one. Note that the with version will include an unknown number of false positives - He was rude to you, but he was fine with me, for example, is about how he acted with me, not directly concerned with how I felt about him. – FumbleFingers Apr 7 '15 at 22:47
7

per comments from @FumbleFingers:

fine by me looks like a trendy british neologism. This can be seen by comparing two phrases in British vs American English for the years 1990-2008.

  • Data can often be selectively used to support your chosen viewpoint. Ngram shows use of "fine by me" in American English in 1939 but the first use in British English is in 1956. – JoAnne Feb 22 '17 at 0:56
2

"Fine with me" is more formal than "Fine by me" but only by a little bit.

I doubt I would use either expression in a business document. Why? Because the expression basically has no meaning in a business sense. It is like calling something "very nice".

In a Business sense I would probably use the word "acceptable". "Fine by me" and "fine with me" are more common speech terms.

For example:

The contract details as defined in your document are acceptable to me.

The contract details as defined in your document are fine with me.

The contract details as defined in your document are fine by me.

The last example makes me think it was written by my teenaged son. The middle one is not bad, but what does "fine" mean? The first one clearly says the details are actionable, the contract can move forward.

  • I don't think the with/by distinction has anything to do with "formality". It's just a matter of established idiomatic usage being different either side of the pond. – FumbleFingers Apr 7 '15 at 17:15
  • @FumbleFingers. This may be what you "think", but Ngram shows that "fine with me" is much more common than "fine by me" both in Britain and in the US. – fdb Apr 7 '15 at 17:23
  • @fdb: Because in the real world there are far more US than UK-published books in NGrams, relative prevalence charts for the BrE corpus are often somewhat distorted by misclassified AmE texts. Superficially, with is about 25% more common than by in BrE, but if you factor in the misclassifications I suspect my position would withstand any scrutiny. – FumbleFingers Apr 7 '15 at 17:42
  • @FumbleFingers it loos like a trendy (is it still trendy?) british neologism BrE, 1990-2008 vs AmE, 1990-2008 – c69 Apr 8 '15 at 11:22
  • @c69: That agrees with my perception. I can't see any reason to dispute Peter's point that originally the basic "okay/fine with/by me" construction started in the US. But it seems to me the specific combination fine by me has been enthusiastically taken up by Brits in recent decades, whereas Americans have mostly stuck with with (which seems to have started to gain traction somewhat earlier). – FumbleFingers Apr 8 '15 at 12:41
0

"Fine by me" is very common, colloquial, perhaps a bit slangy. It is (I believe) modelled on Yiddish, and entered English through New York Jewish slang. "Fine with me" is also very common, and stylistically unmarked.

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