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Do you want to come with?

Can I come with?

I seem to hear this construction more often in recent years, but it still grates on my ear.

I know it's often said that one shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, but I class that rule along with split infinitives (i.e. — pedantic tosh).

Is it always informal/casual speech to end a sentence with "with"? Was it ever thus?

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    Its Midwest via Scandinavia ; there's a famous paper by John Spartz and I'm getting out of the way before I'm trampled by linguists :-)
    – cindi
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 16:38
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    "Who do you want to go with?" is a perfectly fine construction for most English speakers. However, "come with", as in "Do you want to come with?" is a construction that is only used regionally in some parts of the U.S. If it's from Scandinavia, that probably means Minnesota and environs. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 16:42
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    oic. Spartz says it's a standard and grammatical utterance in the Upper Midwest dialect of American English, but I can't dig any deeper without actually buying a copy of his dissertation. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 16:44
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    This is a rule up with which I will not put! (Churchill)
    – GEdgar
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 18:29
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    Quotation attributions on the Internet are notoriously hard to track down. (Lincoln)
    – kojiro
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 20:48

3 Answers 3

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I’ve heard of it, but never heard it. The absence of a direct object after a phrasal verb that normally has one is not unprecedented. FF has already mentioned come after, but there are other examples. You can get on or get off a bus, or you can just get on or get off. You can go without dinner, or you can just go without. I don’t imagine anyone objects to those now, if they ever did. I suspect the only thing intransitive come with can be charged with is being new.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, as Lunivore says, it’s a construction found in Afrikaans. German has the cognate separable verb mitkommen (although admittedly that occurs only intransitively).

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    Is this because "on", "off", and "after" can be adverbs, while "with" generally can not? Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 18:50
  • @PeterShor: They’re prepositions when followed by a noun, just like ‘with’: ‘jump on a bus’, ‘stay with you’. When not followed by a noun, they are adverbs, again, just like ‘with’: ‘I have to get off now’, ‘Can I come with?’ The OED records this use of ‘with’ as an adverb meaning ‘with it (me, them, etc.)’ as obsolete, but it seems to be making a comeback. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 19:47
  • It might seem a bit harsh on @The English Chicken, but I'm going with this one even though everything here seems to be covered by his (or comments thereto). It's short and to the point, and seems to cover everything important. And - amusing as it may be - I'm not sure the pbfcomics strip was exactly central to the usage come with that I was asking about. Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 1:13
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    I've occasionally heard "Can I come with?" in the UK. It could be a German borrowing, although it is of course common across languages for prepositions to be transitive or intransitive and for there to be a little bit of variation in frequency of these uses among speakers. To give you an example from a different language family, you'll occasionally hear French speakers say "Tu viens avec?"; "Il faut faire avec" (meaning "Il faut faire avec ça" = "You have to cope/make do with it") is more or less standard. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 4:39
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It's perfectly fine to end a sentence with a preposition, don't believe any fear-mongering to make you believe otherwise.

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Sometimes it may sound awkward, sometimes it's more suitable for informal writing, but there is no prohibition against it.

Having to read comics about grammar jokes, I guess that's something I could live with.

However, the examples you cited don't sound like correct grammar to me. It's not because they end with with, it's the fact that they omit the personal pronoun:

Do you want to come with us?

Can I come with you?

They're informal speech patterns, and yes, there are grating, kind of like asking "How are you?" and getting "Thanks, I'm doing good."

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    I've primarily heard this construction from people coming from South Africa, where (I believe) it's a literal translation of Afrikaans.
    – Lunivore
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 16:39
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    I say to accept this answer and get it over with
    – user15183
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 17:15
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    @Peter Shor: oic. You mean they think of it as on a par with "Do you want to come along?". That makes a lot of sense to me - I can't casually see "with" as an adverb myself, but logically it ought to be possible with the right attitude! Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 19:27
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    @FumbleFingers I wasn't really saying to accept this answer, it's your choice, of course. It was a little bit of wordplay on your question but it must've been a little wide of the mark.
    – user15183
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 11:12
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    @FumbleFingers How about this one: "The specials tonight are sword fish and honey baked chicken." / "What does the chicken come with?" / "It comes with a side of your choice and a soup or a salad." Commented May 18, 2014 at 8:06
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"Verb + with + [nothing]" is a dialect feature that is widely accepted in America. The Yale Grammatical Diversity Project (YGDP) has a great article about it. (This is different than the inversion we see in questions and similar constructs, where there is a proper prepositional phrase instead of "nothing": "Who will you go with?" => "go with who". For that, see When is it appropriate to end a sentence in a preposition?)

In sentences like "Can I come with?" context determines the exact meaning: Who's leaving? That's who the speaker wants to go with.

There are at least 6 verbs that can work like this, mentioned by Spartz (2008): come, go, ride, bring, take, and carry; a listserv suggests that be is also possible ("A friend was with and she drove me home"). Not all verbs are equally acceptable, however. Consider this map (created by Jim Wood on Oct. 11th, 2019, based on YGDP's data):

deepest green around Dakotas/Minnesota/Wisconsin & Portland/Seattle; medium green around the edges of those areas & West coast & a few other places; light green most anywhere else; white down from west PA to east Texas

See also the YGDP interactive map.

It's most common for "come with" and "go with" to sound natural. (They both sound natural to me.) Those in a dark green area will find more verbs acceptable. Spartz (mentioned above) found all those verbs while researching Minnesota, which is entirely dark green.

The origin is likely Germanic, according to YGDP:

Many people have identified similar constructions in other Germanic languages, including the Scandinavian languages, as the source of this phenomenon. This would explain its presence in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota, where many Norwegian, Swedish, and German speakers settled.

Lunenburg English, an area that has significant German influence (but is too Canadian to be in the YGDP data), also uses "with" like that: "Will you go with? I am going with. Come on with!" (examples from Wikipedia).

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  • Isn't there a famous publication 'Komm Mit'? Commented May 19, 2023 at 11:59

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