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Consider the sentence:

I answered the question as a novice, without conferring with Sir Thomas More or Sir Francis Bacon.

Is the with optional? Could the sentence also be written as:

I answered the question as a novice, without conferring Sir Thomas More or Sir Francis Bacon.

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Possibly you are thinking of 'consult' or 'consult with'? Either of these is possible in the examples you gave. You can say that two people conferred, or that one person conferred with another.

Confer has two meanings:

Confer (with)
to exchange ideas on a particular subject, often in order to reach a decision on what action to take:

I need some time to confer with my lawyer.

Confer (on or upon)
to give an official title, honour, or advantage to someone:

An honorary doctorate was conferred on him by Columbia University.

Confer (Cambridge Dictionary)

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  • Thank you, Michael. In this context, think of consult as seeking advice (e.g., from an expert) and confer to have discussions more as equals. Does this sound right to you? Please excuse the "novice" and who the people are as I now realize that may confuse the context of "confer", but I still intended it as a discussion of opinion. Regarding my initial question, I suppose my confusion is using the present participle of confer followed by the pronouns / subject complements(?)
    – BotNet
    Jan 2 '19 at 22:33
  • Yes, we generally consult experts, and confer with equals. Jan 2 '19 at 22:38
  • The second definition is obviously not relevant to the question and only serves to confuse (me if nobody else). I recommend you remove it.
    – vectory
    Sep 29 '19 at 23:09
  • It has stood for 10 months; it can remain. Sep 30 '19 at 8:01

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