I am a student from Hong Kong. English is only my second language. There are tutors recently saying that there is no such expression and usage as

"To empower someone with skills/knowledge/ability etc. (to do sth)"

Because they can't find it in dictionaries like OALD, LONGMAN, CAMBRIDGE etc so they consider it as invalid. But I certainly discovered such usage by means of corpus although the frequency is relatively low comparing with " empower someone to do sth."

The following are the questions that I would like to ask:

(1)Is this acceptable and common for native speakers to use such expression as "To empower someone with skills/knowledge/ability etc. (to do sth)" even though we can't find it in some of the most authoritative dictionaries?

(2)one of the tutor said that if being so, "to equip someone with something" will be sufficient enough to replace the meaning "To empower someone with skills/knowledge/ability etc. (to do sth)" with ease. Is that a valid statement?

The following are some of the examples:

"This is an essential cause, now that the European Union seeks to empower itself with political strength and carry weight in the international arena."

"ESCAP has started a project that aims to provide such evidence on effective community-based programmes to empower youth with life skills to make informed and responsible decisions and foster their positive health behaviour."

"Particularly in the area of collective and popular art practice, for instance, one of the primary objectives of the research may be to empower socially marginalized research participants with a public voice and visibility enabling them to challenge the status quo."

"Our dream is to have every child enjoy equal right and opportunity to be educated,empower themselves with knowledge and create a decent life. May the light of civilization shine brightly over every child’s path to the future."

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    Corpora include some very dodgy expressions. Have you looked in dictionaries for examples of the form 'empower/ed X with skills/knowledge/ability/...' ? Are you sure that you're not finding false positives like 'We can empower men with ability to progress up the ladder of promotion' meaning 'We can empower men who possess natural ability to progress up the ladder of promotion'? The only hit on Google I can find for "empower men with ability" is the one I've just typed. Jun 21, 2017 at 18:31
  • Some tutors in Hong Kong doesn't believe the above expression ever exists in English as they never appear in either one of the dictionaries, some of them think it is a rare expression and ESL student like me should never use it. Instead, expression like "equip someone with something" will simply get the job done. So I intend to find out the true answers from native speakers :( Jun 21, 2017 at 18:38
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    Sentence.Yourdictionary.com gives 13 example sentences, none containing a with-phrase. 'Endow / invest X with Y' is idiomatic, but I'd have marked 'He empowered them with ability' wrong when I was teaching here in England. It's good to hear that the tutors there concur. // You're right that non-appearance of a usage in a respected dictionary doesn't mean that it is therefore unacceptable. However, neither does appearance on someone's blog mean that a usage is therefore considered standard. Jun 21, 2017 at 18:45
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    You need to link to your examples. I think I can see why you consider this usage to be not dismissable as outlandish, but the register involved in the samples you give (I can't locate the actual quotes) sounds highly jargonistic. 'Empower someone to do something' is the natural-sounding phrasing most normal native speakers would use. Legal / political / business jargon often departs from normal idiomatic English. Jun 21, 2017 at 19:03
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    I'd say the usage is increasing and thus becoming more acceptable, but I'd give it a few more years before I even considered using it myself. Jun 21, 2017 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


Here is a collection of quotations using "empowered with the ability":

All but one relate to empowering a person or people. They are sufficiently diverse and (mostly) recent to support the view of acceptability, assuming this is consistent with what the OP is looking for. (If it's not I'll delete it.)

Grassroots Leadership and the Arts For Social Change - Page 275 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1786356872 Susan J. Erenrich, ‎Jon F. Wergin - 2017 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions No one was unhappy in that room, because everyone was on an important mission. The girls were empowered with the ability to create their own destinies À with a little fabric, thread, and their skills, they crafted a way to stay in school and get ...

Handbook of Research on Engaging Digital Natives in Higher Education ... https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1522500405 Pinheiro, Margarida M. - 2016 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions In addition, Web 2.0 offers students a greater role in the decision-making process as they are empowered with the ability to control flow of information that fits their personalized needs. Knowledge Creation in LMS 2.0 There are three types of ...

Sensor Network Protocols - Page 6-2 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1420006347 Imad Mahgoub, ‎Mohammad Ilyas - 2016 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions Because the sensor nodes are empowered with the ability to share their observations and coordinate among themselves to gather and process information, meaningful information can be transferred to the base station. Such information can ...

Handbook of Sensor Networks: Compact Wireless and Wired Sensing Systems https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0203489632 Mohammad Ilyas, ‎Imad Mahgoub - 2004 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions Because the sensor nodes are empowered with the ability to share their observations and coordinate among themselves to gather and process information, meaningful information can be transferred to the base station. Such information can ...

Forgiving Judas: Manifesto for a New Christianity - Page 66 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0595441629 William Harmening - 2007 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions This time Jesus was empowered with much more than an ability to manifest the Godly virtues. This time he was empowered with the ability to perform miracles. It was the same ability he passed on to certain of his apostles in order to propagate ...

Legal Liabilities in Safety and Loss Prevention - Page 34 https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1449649564 Thomas D. Schneid - 2011 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions In contrast, the Court observed that the Secretary is empowered with the ability to promulgate OSHA rules and standards. Martin, 499 U.S. at 152, 111 S.Ct. 1171. Moreover, as the Martin Court noted, because she is empowered to write and ...

With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0520227344 Daniel Rothenberg - 2000 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions They've been empowered with the ability to sustain themselves with fines and penalties. The laws are written in such a way that you are always in noncompliance. The only question is, Do they want to enforce them at your company at this time ...

The Ethical Use of Touch in Psychotherapy https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1506320716 Mic Hunter, ‎Jim Struve - 1997 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions It is generally helpful to assume that any circumstance in which a client does not feel solidly empowered with the ability to say no has the potential to be interpreted—either consciously or unconsciously—as an exploitive encounter by that ...

Congressional Record, V. 148, PT. 4, April 11, 2002 to April 24, 2002 https://books.google.com/books?id=iOgfSDKecCcC U S Congress - 2006 - ‎Preview Workers should be empowered with the ability to direct where their retirement savings are invested. While the shift to more broad-based stock ownership is generally a positive trend in our society, employees should no longer be forced to buy ...

Summary: Business @ The Speed Of Thought - Bill Gates: Using a ... https://books.google.com/books?isbn=2806238684 BusinessNews Publishing - 2013 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions Buyers and sellers are empowered with the ability to find each other more readily. The intermediary's role is eliminated, unless they can find other ways to add value to the transaction. 2. Most companies will not have the lowest price available.

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