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Which of the following two phrases is correct?

I'd put him right there in the ranks of the best anthropologists out there.

OR

I'd put him right there with the ranks of the best anthropologists out there.

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  • I think it should be 'in' because of a category. Feb 25, 2018 at 4:04

2 Answers 2

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It comes down to context and what you're trying to convey. Based off J.R.'s answer to a related question, you'd probably want to use in rather than with, for this specific sentence.

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    I’m inclined to agree that in is better than with for this context. But what part of J.R.’s answer are you referring to (to support your answer)? Feb 25, 2018 at 19:53
  • There's not a specific example from JR's answer that definitively maps 1:1 with this question, but I believe the framing of the examples can help the reader infer the correct usage when considering the abstract placement of the entities within the sentence. him is being placed within a cadre of top professionals per the sentence's intent. Being in / within their ranks makes more sense than being with them. Being with them can be fairly open-ended (supporters, partners, etc.) whereas being in their ranks makes the context quite specific. Feb 26, 2018 at 19:17
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I do not think there is a "correct" or "incorrect" here. I can offer reasons I think in differs from with.
The military has been somewhat conservative with the use of "rank". And, an analogy from the military might help.

Joe is part of the NPCC (National Patineer Commando Corps). He is an elite soldier, mounted on ice skates. He is in the NPCC. He serves in the NPCC.

Bill serves in the NSS (National Signals Service). He is a radioman. The NSS is not thought of as "elite".

For 3 weeks one December, Bill sets up radio relays within the operational area of a NPCC unit.

Bill serves for 3 weeks with the NPCC. However, Bill is still in the NSS. He is not in the NPCC.

If I want maximum positive effect, I will place someone in the ranks of a venerated group. Placing that person with the ranks of such a venerated group does not seem as positive to me as placing in.

I would chose in so there would be no doubt that I think the person belongs in the ranks of the best. Here, with just does not convey the sense of belonging that in does.

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