I'm not sure if this question has been asked before (if it has I would be more than grateful if somebody could direct me to the thread discussing it) so here it goes: what is the correct worder (or what are the correct possible words orders) in case you have "with" in a sentence and "with" is connected to the subject? Sorry for my sloppy language... I'm quite far from being a grammarian, this is only something I've been wondering about for quite a while now (FYI I'm not a native speaker). Here are a few examples of what I have in mind:

  1. I went to the cinema on Sunday with my mother.
  2. I went to the cinema with my mother on Sunday.
  3. With my mother I went to the cinema on Sunday.
  4. I went, with my mother, to the cinema on Sunday.

... now my problem is that to my non-native ears all of these sound more or less okay (although 2. is a bit weird and 4. sounds a bit archaic to me). So is there a rule? I've also found that this is supposed to be called an instance of the "comitative case" but haven't found any concise rules explaining usage so far.

  • 4
    English doesn't have a comitative case; instead we call these preposition phrases headed by with- comitative adjuncts. 1. and 2. are perfectly natural, but 3. and 4. are not. – BillJ Jan 28 '17 at 8:54
  • Thank you! I'll do some research on 'preposition phrases'. – fwmurnau Jan 30 '17 at 8:06
  • On Sunday, I went to the cinema with my mother also sounds fine. I couldn't give you the rules in this case, though. – Peter Shor Jun 27 '17 at 18:10
  • 1
    I don't think "with" adverbial phrases are much different from other adverbial phrases (like on Sunday) in this regard. The order of non-essential phrases (adjuncts) is just generally fairly free. Note that to the cinema is possibly a complement rather than an adjunct. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Sep 24 '18 at 4:21
  • This would be an example of where the comitative case would be used if English had such a case (or any cases outside pronouns), but it doesn’t. In a language like Finnish, which has an actual – albeit very formal – comitative case, “I went to the cinema on Sunday with my mother” would be “Sunnuntaina menin elokuviin äiteineni”, where äiteineni is the comitative case, meaning ‘with my mother’ (the comitative is always plural in Finnish, so strictly speaking it means ‘with my mothers’, but it is used with singular mothers as well). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 23 '18 at 13:39

The comitative case pertains to a relationship of accompaniment between two participants in an event, called the accompanee and the companion. Wikipedia

Your instinct re: four is correct; it does sound archaic. It's also somewhat clunky and unlikely to be spoken by a native. Three is a bit stilted, too, and probably not something you'd hear often. The most natural-sounding choices are one and two. There's a good possibility you might hear either from a native English speaker.

More to the point, however, they'd probably leave the comitative case behind and say something akin to:

My mother and I went to the movies Sunday.

  • Thank your very much for your comment, this was also really useful. – fwmurnau Jan 30 '17 at 8:07
  • 2
    It isn't so much that number four is after some fashion archaic as that it’s a more specialized use-case than the others because of the way it sets the “with my mother” bit off in parenthesizing commas immediately after the verb. It would have its purpose given the right contextual reference frame surrounding it, and the right prose style. The writer will have had some particular reason for introducing the maternal accompaniment in that way. – tchrist Aug 27 '17 at 14:38
  • I disagree with your final paragraph. It sounds too formal to my British ears, so much so that I can't imagine myself ever saying it in conversation. – TonyK Dec 18 '19 at 18:26

Some arguments against your examples being examples of a noun in the comitative case:

There are few ways in which English uses morphology to modify a word, and in each case the modification is to append a suffix to the word. (Or to alter the word-root, if you consider ablaut changes such as mouse->mice to constitute morphology.) No English morphological process entails using an additional word. To view a with-phrase as a noun in some case would entail a substantial change in our model of English grammar.

A single "with" may govern a noun-phrase which is the conjunction of two or more noun-phrases, e.g. "with my mother and my sister". If some morphological process were done, it would be performed on each noun separately, but it isn't, so the use of "with" is not morphological.

The theory that the use of "with" constitutes putting the noun into a case would have to explain how come a word may be inserted between "with" and the noun, e.g. "with either my mother or my sister".

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