14

BACKGROUND

In this question, it was asked why it sounds better to omit 'with' in

I have no money to buy a bed (with).

whereas 'with' sounds right in

I have no ball to play soccer with.

Indeed, the 'with' feels redundant at best in

I have no money to buy a bed with.

On the other hand, leaving out 'with' here would make it ungrammatical

I have no ball to play soccer. (??)

This is not limited to 'soccer'

I have no ball to play. (??)

Instead, it should be:

I have no ball to play with.

As one of the answers in the quoted question says, it may be okay to use 'with which' as in:

I have no money with which to buy a bed.

Given that the version without 'with which' sounds right, it might be argued that this version with 'with which' may be redundant and thus as unidiomatic as I have no money to buy a bed with. But native speakers seem to find the former grammatical.

Now, moving on to the finite relative clause, compare these:

(1) I have no money I can buy a bed. (??)

(2) I have no money I can buy a bed with.

(3) I have no money with which I can buy a bed.

Here, it seems clear to me that 'with' cannot be omitted, unlike the infinitive relative clause.

QUESTION

Therefore, I'd say that the idiomatic I have no money to buy a bed resisting with at the end is more of an exception in the sense that corresponding finite relative clauses do require 'with' either at the beginning or at the end of the clause, and that the corresponding infinitive clause with 'which' requires 'with'.

What do you think triggers this exception?

EDIT

It may be worthwhile to note that the version with "with" is not ungrammatical:

I have no money to buy a bed with.

Some native speakers might find this version more correct -- if not more common -- than the one lacking "with".

  • To me, "I have no money to buy a bed" suggests that the money, not you, would be doing the buying, You'd like to buy a bed with money - that's where the 'with' comes in. – David Garner Apr 29 '15 at 13:13
  • I'm not a native speaker, so I don't judge what a native speaker feels is right or wrong. The version without 'with' was preferred to the one without by the person who submitted the quoted question, who I assumed was a native speaker. Moreover, those who responded to that quoted question, who, again, I assumed were native speakers, had NOT rejected such a preference itself. And now you, apparently another native speaker, come in and say that you disagree with all the others in terms of the acceptability of the version without 'with'? – JK2 Apr 29 '15 at 13:46
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    Well, not exactly, @JK2. I ran the different versions thru my head, and the ones with 'with' sounded best to me. Then I tried to figure why, and came up with my comment. It wasn't, and wasn't intended to be, a ruling, and I'm not actually disagreeing with the other opinions. – David Garner Apr 29 '15 at 15:21
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    Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. – Hot Licks Apr 29 '15 at 20:05
  • @JK2 I've re-read everything this morning, and I now can't hear anything wrong with "I have no money to buy a bed." – David Garner Apr 30 '15 at 8:40
1
+150

Here, grammar is not the main issue; It is what people will understand by your statement.

I have no reason to buy a bed.

I have no inclination to buy a bed.

I have no room to put a bed [in].

I have no money to buy a bed [with].

I know of no good shop to buy a bed [from].

I have no family to buy a bed [for].

I have no other furniture to put a bed [beside]. (this might be in response to a salesman saying "Here is a colourful bed which will add glamour to a bookshelf or a desk nearby")

Here, the first two statements do not require any word after "bed", while all the remaining can take a preposition.

These are all grammatically fine, but if contemporary folks can understand the statements without a preposition (the last word in square brackets) & if they think it is "pompous" to use that preposition, then drop it. If they do not understand the meaning or they feel that it sounds incomplete, then use the preposition. My choice is to use the preposition, atleast where the meaning changes without it.

Depending on whether the preposition is included or not, the two sentences (while being grammatically correct) will have two slightly different meanings, so most of my examples require the last word to completely convey the intended meaning. In the case of the fourth example, the preposition may be dropped, without much change in conveyed meaning, because money is usually used for buying things with. Hence, native speakers will have the tendency to drop it, I guess.

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    None of those examples with the preposition at the end sound pompous. But placing the preposition with its pronoun, e.g. "I have no friend with whom to share a bed" can sound ‘pompous’ = very formal :) (It's the whom which many find objectionable/pompous nowadays) – Mari-Lou A May 4 '15 at 19:48
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    @Prem: Good examples. Whether you want to call it grammar or something else, don't you think that there is a tendency amongst native speakers (at least AmE speakers) to drop the "with" from your fourth example, perhaps more so than to drop the prepositions from your third, fifth, sixth and seventh examples? – JK2 May 5 '15 at 1:54
  • @Mari-LouA , agreed. I feel ,"with whom" probably sounds "pompous" because "whom" is itself going out of fashion, though that is only a guess. – Prem May 5 '15 at 3:38
  • @JK2 , agreed. Depending on weather the preposition is included or not, the two sentences (while being grammatically correct) will have two slightly different meanings, so most of my examples require the last word to completely convey the intended meaning. In the case of the fourth example, the preposition may be dropped, without much change in conveyed meaning, because money is usually used for buying things with. Hence, native speakers will have the tendency to drop it, I guess. – Prem May 5 '15 at 3:53
  • @Prem. Thanks for the comment, which is exactly what I meant by "an exception". So it seems that the meaning of "money" is the culprit that triggers such an exception. If so, that may be the answer I was looking for. If you could edit your answer to incorporate what you said in your comment, I might as well award the bounty. – JK2 May 5 '15 at 4:11
4

In order to play a game of soccer you need ability and a ball, so it's quite natural to say:

(i) I can play (soccer). (ii) I can't play (soccer) (iii) I can play soccer with a ball (iv) I can't play soccer without a ball.

Likewise it is possible to use the modal can with the verb buy

(i) I can buy. (ii) I can't buy (note that we are speaking about the ability to buy, no object is required, sentences (i) and (ii) stand on their own.) (iii) I can buy food. (iv) I can buy food with money. (v) I can't buy food without money

to have no + object

  1. I have no money. [to do with what?]
  2. I have no money with which to buy [to buy what?]
  3. I have no money with which to buy food. [outdated]
  4. I have no money to buy food with. [the same meaning as 3.]
  5. I have no money to buy food. [grammatical]

To specify that you buy food with money is tautological. Can sentence 5 stand alone? Yes, it can. The positive sentence “I have money with which to buy food” is grammatical but it sounds very formal. By deleting “with which” we have a more modern sounding sentence:

  1. I have money to buy food. [YES]

  1. I have no ball [to do with what?]
  2. I have no ball with which to play [to play what?]
  3. I have no ball with which to play soccer. [outdated]
  4. I have no ball to play soccer with. [modern]

Delete soccer and we're left with

  1. I have no ball to play with

In #2. which refers to ball. If the object of the sentence was friend then whom could be used.

  1. I have no friend with whom to play.

This is quite formal and today's native speakers may find it pompous-sounding and artificial. Nowadays, it is more common to hear:

  1. I have no friend to play with.

delete with and we're left with

  1. *I have no friend to play [?]

This sentence is incomplete. In positive sentences, we would not normally say

  1. I have a friend to play.[NO]

    • What does the speaker need a friend for?
    • To play (soccer) with.
    • I have a friend with whom to play. [YES]
    • I have a friend to play with. [YES]
    • I have a friend who I play with. [YES]

This construction also holds true in the negative; therefore, after the clause I have no friend we can insert with whom before the verb to play as in sentence #2, or we add the preposition with at the end of the sentence as in #5.

The preposition with refers to the friend. You play with a friend. Similarly you can play soccer with a friend. You don't play with soccer; e.g. *I play with soccer. [NO] However, you play soccer with a ball. Here with tells us that a ball is used in order to play soccer. E.g. I write with a pen. But I could also write with a pencil, biro, marker, penknife etc. If I have no pen, I say:

  1. *I have no pen to write [to do what?]
  2. I have no pen to write with

In #2. the sentence sounds incomplete.

with
10. a. By the means or agency of: eat with a fork; made us laugh with his jokes.

EDIT
In answer to Araucaria's comment “However - I don't understand why to buy food with money is tautological, (i.e. why the ‘with’ is tautological), but to write with a pen is not. In standard British English, 4 and 5 are equally acceptable ...”

I gave the following explanation

Why do you think “with money” is not tautological (maybe redundant would have been a better word) to say?

  • I have money to buy food (with).
  • I can buy food (with money).
  • I can afford to buy food (with money).

The words in brackets do not add meaning to the sentence. The exchange of money is implied when we say ‘buy’.

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  • You said: [To specify that you buy food with money is a bit tautological. Can sentence 5 stand alone? Yes, it can.] The only one question that I had was what makes it possible for sentence 5 to stand alone without "with" at the end. Where in your post am I supposed to find the answer to that one question? – JK2 May 3 '15 at 10:20
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    I sincerely hope that this answer does not say the same thing as user78549!!!!! This answer is not completely wrong and self-contradictory. However - I don't understand why to by food with money is tautological, (i.e. why the with is tautological), but to write with a pen is not. In standard British Englishes 4 and 5 are equally acceptable - if anything 4 is preferable all other things being equal (though they're both ok). – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 3 '15 at 22:12
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    @Araucaria Why do you think “with money” is not tautological (maybe redundant would have been a better word) to say? I have money to buy food (with). I can buy food (with money). I can afford to buy food (with money). The words in brackets do not add meaning to the sentence. The exchange of money is implied when we say ‘buy’. That's, in any case, how I see it. It's a bit over the top to say user78549's answer is completely wrong. But, if I understood your comment, my answer might be a little wrong? :) :) – Mari-Lou A May 3 '15 at 23:08
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    @Mari-LouA It's not the money being redundant, it's the with that I have a problem with. We use money to buy things with (it). We use pens to write things with (them). Why is the with redundant in one case but not in the other? Its the money and the pens which are the direct objects of the main verb have , so in any case, arguably it's the verbs in the infinitives themselves which are redundant :) Re completely*, well, you aren't misrepresenting a source in your post. You note that some sentences are a bit outdated - I'd say formal, but hey. You don't say (4) is considered incorrect. – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 4 '15 at 0:58
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    I deleted my first comment because after a more careful reading, I no longer think I am paraphrasing user78549's answer. – Mari-Lou A May 4 '15 at 18:54
1

I think the answer lies in verb transitivity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitivity_%28grammar%29

"Buy" requires an object. With some pedantic exceptions, one cannot just walk into a store and "buy." One needs to "buy something."

On the other hand, "play" has ambitransitivity, which makes it fit in a lot more sentence structures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intransitive_verb#Ambitransitivity

Consider:

I went to the store and bought. (this needs an object)
I went to the store and bought a piano.
I went to the store and played.
I went to the store and played a piano.
I went to the store and bought with a piano. (this makes no sense)
I went to the store and played with a piano.

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  • I don't see where you're coming from. Really. – JK2 Apr 30 '15 at 10:10
  • -1 for not responding to my comment. – JK2 May 2 '15 at 2:02
  • If the property of the verbs used were the real culprit, the finite relative clause lacking 'with' in the case of the verb 'buy', as in (1), would have been grammatical. But it isn't. – JK2 May 2 '15 at 2:09
0

Maybe the question is moot. I'd just keep things simple and omit "with" from both statements:

"I have no money to buy a bed."

"I have no ball to play soccer."

As long as the meaning is understood, less is more.

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  • If less is more, why doesn't (1) work? – JK2 May 2 '15 at 2:10
-3
+500

confusion

In the original question there was some confusion,

why we omit with when we say... grammatically, it's the same as "I have no ball to play soccer with". In this case, having with is correct, while in the case of the first sentence, it feels weird to have with at the end of the sentence. Also, "I have no time to study" and "I have no one to study with"... how would I explain why we omitted with in the first sentence?

and one couldn't possible give a rational answer. OP was mixing, confusing the concepts of 'grammatical', 'correct' and 'feel weird, and in the last example he was asking why we don't say:

  • "I have no time to study with"

what can one possibly answer? what has grammar got to do with an absurd concept/ proposition?

more confusion

this question reports

it sounds better... Indeed, the 'with' feels redundant leaving out 'with' here would make it ungrammatical I have no ball to play with. As one of the answers in the quoted question says, it may be okay to use 'with which' Given that the version without 'with which' sounds right, it might be argued that this version with 'with which' may be redundant and thus as unidiomatic .. But native speakers seem to find the former grammatical... (1) I have no money I can buy a bed. (??).. (2) I have no money I can buy a bed with... (3) I have no money with which I can buy a bed. Here, it seems clear to me that 'with' cannot be omitted,

Again, what can one answer to this rambling? answer if it is grammatical, ungrammatical not ungrammatical, sounds/feels right, is or feels reduntant, is idiomatic or unidiomatic (whatever that means) or is okay? What does 'okay' mean: correct, incorrect, grammatical, that feels correct or not weird?:

"Before jumping ... Citing a reference is not obligatory to get the bounty, although I'd prefer one. - JK2"

What reference can one quote to affirm that a sentence feels okay, or is/feels redundant?, I ask!

Now, let's come to the:

question

Therefore, I'd say that the idiomatic "I have no money to buy a bed" resisting with at the end is more of an exception in the sense that corresponding finite relative clauses do require 'with' either at the beginning or at the end of the clause, and that the corresponding infinitive clause with 'which' requires 'with'.What do you think triggers this exception? EDIT It may be worthwhile to note that the version with "with" is not ungrammatical:

I have no money to buy a bed with. Some native speakers might find this version more correct -- if not more common -- than the one lacking "with". -JK2

The question is not only confused, but loaded: he has already decided it is an exception and is asking what is the reason of that exception.

answer

Now, it takes some time to digest this question, it seems to regard the difference between the 2 forms, the first of which is the exception, if I got it wrong he will correct me:

  • I have no money to buy a bed (idiomatic, an exception to the rule)
  • I have no money to buy a bed with (not ungramatical)

Ellie Kesselman replied that the correct form is: "I have no money with which to buy a bed." wasn't it enough?

Mari-Lou confirm this is correct, but, in her opinion, it sounds formal and prefers "I have no money to buy a bed (food). Which is correct, too. She does not directly answer the question, but we may infer from another example (I have no ball to play soccer with. [modern]) that she thinks that "I have no money to buy a bed with" sounds correct and 'modern', to boot.

phaedrus, user78549, Andy ielding etc., do not like that form. "I suspect that when we depart from the resource/object during the act, we feel weird to use 'with' ". - phaedrus

Grammar has nothing to do with this: some thinks it is okay, and so does OP. I will not express my opinion because it is just an opinion and I'm sure that if it ìsounds weird* to me, it is not relevant or interesting.

I'll only reply to the question affirming that

  • *I have no money to buy a bed (idiomatic, an exception to the rule)* is neither idiomatic nor an exception to any rule it is only a short (elliptical) form of the formal canonical: "I have no money [with which]..

  • that the second form requires a far more complex (if not mirror-climbing) canonical grammatical justification

Update

I'd like to know if you think that you could readily omit prepositions from Prem's 3rd-7th examples,.... and if you still think that Prem's 4th example is not an exception, - JK2

I think I have identified the concept you are missing: register

The concept of 'grammatical' is different from the concept of 'appropriate', 'right', 'acceptable', 'sounds good/ okay', that's why I kept repeating it and I hope that after reading that article now you can understand.

What is 'grammatically incorrect' can be quite acceptable, can 'sound/be okay':

  • in different situations
  • to a) people belonging to different areas, b) social classes, c) levels of education

Just to give you a strong example, if you are in a certain area, among a certain group of people:

  • "I don't need nobody" sounds okay, as a straw poll of six native speakers will certify!

Conversely, what is grammatically correct is not acceptable in different situations. I suppose no examples are needed, as you surely know that the same correct proposition you say to your friends you can't say to your professor.

In addition to this complex situation, the very concept of correct changes with time, and a statement is true only here and now

If/ when you understand that, you'll understand what so many posters have told you. The state of the art, now, is that a preposition at the end is correct in a few cases. Outside that, the context and only the context can tell you if it sounds okay or not.

  • "I have no bed to buy a bed [with]"

the preposition simply **should not be there*. Period. But, in a sitting-room, in a pub, or among low-educated people, it can be anything. Nobody can be blamed, except a teacher who teaches his/her students what is acceptable only in a pub.

In case it is not yet clear, I'll comply with your request, adding a last remark, and then I'll drop out of the discussion:

  • examples 1, 2 do not require a preposition at all, I do not see why they are here: adding a preposition would be simply irrational, nothing to do with grammar,
  • examples 3-7 are all alike, they have the same structure, so I can't see why you are singling it out, it is no exception. There is no difference in meaning, the preposition is redundant, useless as far as meaning is concerned. Therefore I, for one, see no reason why one should add something which is useless, especially when it is an infraction of current grammatical standards
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    @JK2, you are equivocating: "Aren't... confused..t questions? sure, but the question must make sense, must be answerable. You decide what you do not understand and ask a clear specific question, You cannot ask at the same time if a sentence is grammatical/idiomatic/unidiomatic/redundant or sounds okay. Also, you ask a question which is not loaded and allows the correct answer, and try to be serious and not mess around: 'how can I play with a ball I don't have'. If you have problems with English, ask someone to edit your question. If you update your post, I'll be glad to help. – user92175 May 4 '15 at 9:00
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    You say I was being unclear in my earlier comment to your answer. And you say my question is not "answerable." You see, more than 7 people (used to be 10) voted my question to be showing research effort, and to be useful and clear. I guess that's above average. Moreover, as of now, no less than 5 people including yourself chose to post their answers. If it were unanswerable, why not just vote it down and move on? Or better yet, why don't you try editing the question yourself if you find the way it is presented confusing? – JK2 May 4 '15 at 9:22
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    @JK2, you should decide if you want to argue or if you want help. I admire the persons who tried to answer this question [including myself :) ]. I'll be able to help you if you tell me what you want to know. If you have learned something from all these answers, (the current rules have been quoted), radically edit your post, give only a couple of sentences and ask exactly what is still unclear. Be careful not to mix two or more concepts. Btw : my answer didn't convince you? what else can one possible add? – user92175 May 4 '15 at 9:31
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    This isn't an answer, it's a rant at the OP. And a badly written one too. – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 4 '15 at 21:20
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    @GreenRay, this might sound weird, but would you go over to Prem's answer and look at my comment there? In that comment, I actually asked a question that you might think is more answerable than the OP. If you find it answerable, please go ahead and add a comment there and answer the question there. I'd like to know if you think that you could readily omit prepositions from Prem's 3rd-7th examples, and if you still think that Prem's 4th example is not an exception in allowing the omission of the preposition more readily than others. – JK2 May 5 '15 at 2:00

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