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My friends and I got into an argument about which sentence is right: "The cream cheese comes with the bagel" or "The bagel comes with the cream cheese".

What is the exact meaning of each of these sentences?

Which would be the correct one (or both), if I wanted to say "you get cream cheese if you buy a bagel"?

Also, would the second sentence be right if the second “the” was removed? "The bagel comes with cream cheese"

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    This is actually an excellent question; never noticed this discrepancy before. There are four possible variants (the two you give plus two with indefinite “cream cheese" instead of definite “the cream cheese”), and quite bizarrely, three of them mean the same, while the fourth is ambiguous but would generally mean the opposite unless context demanded otherwise. This is really quite odd! Sep 26 '18 at 16:57
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"The bagel comes with cream cheese" (in the sense "if you purchase the bagel, you will get both a bagel and cream cheese") is pretty clearly "correct" for any reasonable definition of "correct". There are tons of examples of sentences with the same construction, and you can find it recorded in many dictionaries:

"The cream cheese comes with the bagel" seems to be a less common construction to express this idea, but other analogous examples can be found online:

"Cream cheese comes with the bagel" just uses the indefinite noun phrase "cream cheese" instead of the definite noun phrase "the cream cheese". I did find an example sentence matching that pattern in the WordWeb Online entry for "come with":

Likewise, "The bagel comes with the cream cheese" differs from "The bagel comes with cream cheese" in the definiteness of the second noun phrase. The exact interpretation of/meaning of definiteness isn't always easy to pin down.

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  • To me, “The bagel comes with the cream cheese” doesn’t just differ in definiteness: there’s the very fundamental distinction that, with no context to demand otherwise, it means “if you buy cream cheese, we’ll throw in a bagel”, as opposed to “The bagel comes with cream cheese” which means “If you buy a bagel, it will have cream cheese as part of the purchase”. Out of the four possible permutations of this sentence, three are fairly unambiguous, but this one is ambiguous tending towards the opposite meaning of the other three. Sep 26 '18 at 16:54
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To build on sumelic’s answer,

(independent thing)comes with(dependent thing)

seems to be the prevailing pattern.  For example, “Your food order comes with utensils and napkins.” or “The bagel comes with cream cheese.”  But opposite constructs are not hard to find:

Success Comes with Effort, by Hillary Geslin

______ comes with the territory

  Collins English Dictionary:

      If you say that something comes with the territory, you mean that you accept it as a natural result of the situation you are in.

  The Free Dictionary:

      To typically accompany a certain situation; to be a usual consequence or related issue.
      When you're the boss, staying late at the office just comes with the territory.
      Sleep deprivation comes with the territory of being a new parent.

  Cambridge English Dictionary:

      to be an expected fact or result of a particular situation or position:
      The public attention that famous people get just goes with the territory.

There is a lot of authority and responsibility that comes with being a prophet.

Partnering With The Prophetic: Portfolios, Protocols, Patterns & Processes By Dr. Bruce Cook

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