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I have seen the following sentences in a book given to us during our training period at The Regional Institute of English, Bangluru

  1. I got married to Priscilla.

  2. I got married with Priscilla

According to the book, the first sentence means "I married Priscilla" and second sentence means "I and Priscilla married at the same time. I married a different girl."

It was also mentioned in the book that even if a person says

“I am getting married with my sister”

we need not raise our brows since the speaker and his sister are getting married at the same time.

I would like to know your responses regarding the information given in the book. Do native speakers really understand the sentences in the same way?

  • 28
    'I married Priscilla' and 'I married alongside Priscilla' is how I would express the possibilities. (My dad used to often say at the dinner table, 'I married so-and-so' but that's because he was a Minister.) – Nigel J Aug 21 at 14:52
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    It’s a fine distinction. The question is, “Do I think the speaker understands this distinction or not?” In many cases people don’t speak with precision of language and so one has to question if they really meant what they said or not. What do I know about how much care they take when speaking? What do I know about their sister and her marital status? Just that sentence by itself? I would raise my eyebrows at It... – Jim Aug 21 at 14:56
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    I think (but might be wrong), that "group marriage ceremonies" are far more common in India than Britain (and maybe the US, I dunno). For "mainstream" Anglophones the possibility of the context involving multiple "simultaneous" weddings is so unlikely we wouldn't normally concern ourselves with wondering how to unambiguously express it, let alone teach schoolchildren how to handle the situation. But all that really matters is if we know the speaker is a competent Anglophone, we know he'd have used to for the normal meaning. And not doing so implies a different meaning. – FumbleFingers Aug 21 at 16:34
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    I can think of a situation where 'I got married below my sister' would work, but it's silly to include such contrived questions in a teaching manual. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 21 at 16:38
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    @MasonWheeler try saying "I'm getting married with children"? Or worse still, "He's going to get married with a dog" To be married is one thing but "getting married with (to) someone" has a different meaning. – Mari-Lou A Aug 22 at 14:26
36

In this situation the object of to refers almost exclusively to who the subject is married to.

A Corpus of Contemporary American English search turns up 5778 collocations of "married to," and all of the ones I've looked at identify a married couple. "I got married to Priscilla" would mean that you and Priscilla became spouses. This is the normative advice given by the Cambridge Dictionary, which says:

We use to, not with, after get married + direct object and be married + direct object:

Why do they recommend that? "with" tends to be used in reference to other people involved in a marriage.

First, let's take the more general case of "Married with." (We'll get lots of results with this to see how the preposition works.) "Married with" has 629 results in COCA. Let me show you a sample page of results:

enter image description here

They all refer to marriage with kids or children of varying numbers! This obviously doesn't mean that the subject of the sentence has become the spouse of one or more kids. Instead, with seems to denote someone who is related to that relationship more broadly -

He's happily married with kids

meaning he's (a) married and (b) with kids, or that the kids are a product or an accompaniment of the marriage.

Outside of these results, with can signify several relationships. Kids, of course, may be implied. So might a spouse:

1997 SPOK I met [Princess Diana] really at the beginning when she was married with Prince Charles.

or pets:

2012 MAG I'm married with dogs, no children

Most of these functions carry over to "get married with" in various tenses and forms of to get. I found 21 results for "GET married with" (the capitalization generates all the verb forms of get -results came up for get, got, getting, and gets.) Note this compares to 274 results for "GET married to" - this is already a less common usage.

Similar categories of prepositional object recur with this more specific usage. There are people who are not the marital partner:

it's perfectly fine to get married with just your family and your very closest friends.

To get married with your child in your arms ...

So might one's current condition or possession:

Two days later, at age 22, Griffin got married with a black eye.

she's getting married with lipstick and alcohol and a skirt that's knee length

Everyone gets married with four sets [of linens] these days

So might a circumstance:

A girl can get married with parental permission at 16

It'll be cool to get married with all the fish swimming around us...

Of course, all this is in addition to a marital partner:

You know, I'd like to get married with my girlfriend.

With all of these objects for with, the personal ones contain an ambiguity even in "get married with" - it may refer to people at the wedding or it may refer to the marital partner at the wedding. It's also theoretically possible for a person to be part of a circumstance. With this potential ambiguity, that is likely why Cambridge Dictionary recommends avoiding it for the more clear (and much more often used) "get married to."

So "get married to" is a preferred collocation when referring to a spouse. The object of "get married with" would be determined more by context, and less commonly refers to a spouse.

  • 24
    Almost all of these are examples of "to be married with" instead of "to get married with". – Xantix Aug 22 at 15:45
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    One of your examples actually seems to be using "married with" essentially the same as "married to", as far as I can tell. "The fledgling financial regulatory machine of China, married with the growth of fintech over the last 7 years". The difference is obviously that it's not using marriage in the sense of a wedding; but in the sense of two things married together, so that may be a key difference. – JMac Aug 22 at 16:30
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    @Taliesin Part of the answer to your last question is that "to be X" refers to a state of being, while "to get X" describes an action of becoming. In the former case, being with children or pets can naturally occur as part of the same state of being during the same general time span as being married. But in the latter case, the actions of getting married, getting children, and getting pets don't happen as parts of the same action. – LarsH Aug 22 at 17:19
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    @TonyK I do use it sparingly. I have not suggested that LarsH, JMac, or Xantix are rude. Typing, "I don't know why you even bothered to post them" and "How is that not clear to you?" adds unnecessary antipathy to a conversation. To quote "Expected Behavior": "Whether you've come to ask questions, or to generously share what you know, remember that we’re all here to learn, together. Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do." – TaliesinMerlin Aug 22 at 18:18
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    @TonyK I agree you were being quite rude. I don't think TaliesinMerlin justified it well enough, but the fact that nearly all the examples of the preposition "with" being used with "married" are not like that from the question show that the queried example ("married with" meaning simultaneous wedding) is a quite unusual usage overall. This is relevant because when most people see "married with" they are going to be thinking of cases like those from the COCA results and will have to go back and re-parse once that analysis proves to be nonsensical. This is all super-relevant to the question. – nohat Aug 23 at 22:22
55

I would definitely agree there's a difference between getting married "to" someone and getting married "with" someone, but for the latter case, a native speaker might think you just misspoke. Marriage ceremonies where multiple couples get married at the same time are very uncommon, so the act of getting married "with" someone is exceedingly rare. So rare, in fact, that it's less likely that the speaker really did get married "with" someone than it is that the speaker didn't really mean "with". They almost certainly don't mean they're getting married to their sister, but they could mean they're getting married with her there, or by her, or something else entirely. Any way you slice it, getting married with someone is an uncommon phrasing and an even more uncommon event, and will require further clarification by the speaker.

  • 1
    If "the speaker didn't really mean 'with'", what are you presuming they meant? Surely not "to"? Double weddings are uncommon, but when they do occur it is often two sisters getting married at the same time. I'm admittedly biased since my mother and aunt had a double wedding ceremony, but I wouldn't bat an eye at hearing "I am getting married with my sister." I would, however do a double take if you told me "I am getting married to my sister." – jmbpiano Aug 22 at 3:48
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    If the speaker says with then they’re are being unclear. This is the sort of error that non native speakers often make. It’s bad practice of the teacher to recommend this as an acceptable phrasing. – rhialto Aug 22 at 8:56
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    I'd probably assume they meant "I'm getting married with my sister in attendance", or didn't mean "sister", or "I'm getting married by my sister" - in any case, I'd ask for clarification (even from a native speaker who said "with"), since they either misspoke or need to tell me more about this exceedingly unusual ceremony. – Nuclear Wang Aug 22 at 12:39
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    The rareness or otherwise of multiple marriage ceremonies is a cultural thing. But I don't think there is anywhere in the world, right now, where people marry their sisters. So you have it backwards. – TonyK Aug 22 at 17:01
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    @TonyK Comparing the frequency of multiple marriages to the frequency of sibling marriages isn't relevant to my answer - I'm comparing the frequency of multiple marriages to the frequency of a non-native speaker misspeaking, which skews heavily toward the latter in most English-speaking locales. Nowhere do I suggest that the correct interpretation is that someone is marrying their sister, not sure what you see as "backwards" here. – Nuclear Wang Aug 22 at 18:47
31

On hearing the second sentence, I would assume the speaker meant married to and made a mistake.

The reason for thinking that is that there are countless possibilities of expressing being married at the same time as someone else. When you want to say that, you mean to emphasise the time aspect, so it seems natural to focus on that.

Some clear ways of expressing that:

We got married on the same day.

We got married at the same time.

To my ears, we can be substituted by almost any group of persons, like so:

My sister and I got married on the same day.

All my siblings got married at the same time.

In this case, it's quite obvious that they don't mean to say they married each other. If that were the case (and that was the message one tried to convey), then it could easily be said more explicitly (using the phrasal verb married to).

If one wants to be careful not to get weird looks, it's of course possible to make it extra clear that they married with other people, for example:

My sister and I got married on the same day in separate ceremonies.

My sister and I got married in a double wedding.

  • 1
    Who's "we"? I know the answer, but the whole ambiguity lies with the "my sister" bit. If I said My brother and I [we] got married at the same time It still sounds pretty incestuous :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 21 at 18:03
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    We both got married makes it a bit clearer that these were separate weddings/couples. – jpatokal Aug 22 at 0:48
  • @Mari-LouA Double weddings do take place fairly regularly in the UK - if only to reduce costs by sharing. There has even been one (or should that be two?) in the story line of a popular UK TV soap opera. – alephzero Aug 22 at 1:45
  • And of course many people share a wedding day, no way every couple gets their own day. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Aug 22 at 1:47
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    It's much better IMO. – Mari-Lou A Aug 23 at 0:35
22

The correct phrasing for the “with my sister” variant is “I am having a double wedding with my sister”, and the past tense would be “I had a double wedding with my sister”.

Married with sister is going to be understood as some kind of mistake (your sister attended your wedding, you attended your sisters wedding) or possible just what it sounds like: you married your sister. I.e the book is wrong, it will raise eyebrows.

  • @jimoreno.If the sentence is wrong or not ambiguous, it would not have been so popular The book was published by a reputed English Institute in India – Englishmonger Aug 22 at 12:01
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    @JagathaVLNarasimharao Plenty of books have glaring errors in them and yet are still popular. That doesn't guarantee anything. – Darrel Hoffman Aug 22 at 16:51
16

It's so much easier to disambiguate by writing "I am getting married along with my sister." that there is not much of a point in choosing the version likely to lead to misunderstanding. Language is not mathematics: the goal is not being formally right but conveying your message.

12

As a native English speaker I feel that "with my sister" is too vague and confusing unless I already knew details about the wedding. I wouldn't really understand what the speaker meant if I had little or no prior knowledge about the wedding.

If I saw an old friend that I hadn't seen in a long time and then asked him how his life was going and he responded with "I'm getting married with my sister", I would absolutely raise an eyebrow and ask for clarification. There's just not enough information in that sentence alone for me to know what he's trying to tell me.

  • 1
    I think this is the right answer. The sentence isn't so much ambiguous as lacking in information required to interpret it at all. – Jack Aidley Aug 23 at 13:58
8

Contrary to many of the answers and comments, "married with" is a fairly common substitute for "married to" in colloquial English, especially among children, lower class, or less-educated speakers. Depending on my knowledge of the speaker, I might expect "married with" was an intentional distinction from "married to", but I would say it definitely qualifies as "ambiguous".

The unambiguous way to say this would be:

I'm getting married in a joint ceremony with my sister.

(Or maybe not; perhaps the sisters are marrying and the wedding will involve pot. The point being that English, and human language in general, is almost always ambiguous.)

3

It's amazing how much some people can 'talk' without actually answering the OP's question. The answer is yes, the quoted phrasing is ambiguous, and no, no native English speaker would use the phrasing “I am getting married with my sister” because it is so ambiguous.

The explanations of why that is so are all over this page, so I won't repeat them.

0

“Sita was married by Riva” which you mentioned means that Riva is the person who performed the ceremony marrying Sura and another person.

  • 1
    Please transfer your answer to the new question. I have explained to the OP, who is a new contributor, that it is bad policy to radically modify a question so late in the day and when nine-ten answers have already been submitted. None of whom refer to the passive sentence. – Mari-Lou A Aug 23 at 6:28
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    Here is the new question, you might like to post your answer there. english.stackexchange.com/questions/509329/… – Mari-Lou A Aug 24 at 6:06

protected by Mari-Lou A Aug 23 at 6:37

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