Someone gives a parable whose wisdom is not quite understood, so they are asked:

'What did you intend by this parable?'


'What did you intend with this parable?'

Which preposition is more acceptable?

3 Answers 3


Intend by is used along with an action. - What do you intend by doing something

Intend with is used along with an object. What do you intend to do with something

So, intend by seems to be better suited in this context. As in

What did you intend by (telling) this parable.

Usually the action is omitted for brevity or if it is understood by default as in this case.


Both seem somewhat incomplete to me. I would say something like

What did you intend to say with this parable?


I agreed with rest_day right up until "so, intend by seems to be better...". "Intend by" applies to an action, but I don't think it's good style to omit the action. So "intend by telling this parable" or "intend with this parable" seem to me to be the viable options. Or "intend to say" per phenry.

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