The more I think about it the more confused I get:

One good example is here:

Hmm. Maybe something like this. It's the end of the day and things didn't go well. We're meeting to talk about what we'll do tomorrow. Should we stick with the original plan or try something new?

We're at work, and I wander by to see how everyone is doing. You think that you'd like to try something difference. "Stick to the plan for now," I say.

So maybe while planning - stick with, and while doing - stick to?

I'm speculating ... sometimes the more you think about something the harder it is to remember.

Is there a difference between

to stick with something/somebody


to stick to something/somebody

...and if so could you please give examples that make the different usages clear?

  • 3
    @Downvoter: It is good practice here to give reasons for the downvote and hints how to make the question better - thank you!
    – vonjd
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:02
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    Please don't use abbreviations in your question if they're not relevant. "please" is just a character longer than "pls." and comes across as a lot better
    – user10893
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:08
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    Have you just thought about the phrases, or have you thought about actual uses or dictionary definitions? We really need to know what confuses you, and whether you have exhausted ordinary references. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:10
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    Then you need to incorporate your findings in your question, so we don't have twenty people repeating your work. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:13
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    Thank you. I've now upvoted your question, and hope the downvoters will revisit it and rescind their votes. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


On the forum you linked to, a long catalog of uses was posted at 20-Mar-2008, 08:27. I think that posting makes clear that

  1. there is no difference between the two phrases in the senses of "continuing to support/accompany/practise/adhere [figuratively] to": stick to/with the plan, stick to/with me, stick to/with your principles

ANOTHER EDIT: You may find one preposition used more often with any particular object stuck to—see bib's response—but this doesn't exclude using the other.

  1. only stick to may be used to signify "cause to adhere to": stick the poster to the wall but not stick the poster with the wall.

  2. only stick with may be used to signify "impose a (relative) burden upon": he stuck me with the bill or she got the fellowship, I was stuck with an assistantship, but to won't work in these.

One more "stick to" idiom occurs to me: *stick it to [someone]", meaning "inflict excessive (physical, emotional, financial &c) pain upon": They had him cornered and really stuck it to him.

EDIT: And another: Stick to [one's] guns, although it fits use 1 above, is a fixed idiom; stick with your guns would mean "continue to accompany your artillery".

  • Agreed there's no difference in sense #1. But as I suspected, there seems to be a preference in some idiomatic contexts - it's mostly to with the plan, but the other way round with the program/programme Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 19:04
  • @FumbleFingers Hmmm ... looks like BE to ... programme was picked up in AE and subsequently evolved into with ... program. I wonder if this reflects pressure from get with the program? Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 20:00
  • +1 But disagree slightly with @FumbleFingers; I think with the plan is softer, less exclusionary than to the plan.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:13
  • @bib FF's depending on NGrams, so you have to quarrel with his methodology. I think these differences are mostly idiolectal or random or both. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:19
  • @StoneyB: I never got as far as wondering why, but it's invariably get with the program, (not get with the plan), so that's credible. On the other hand, it's normally stick to the point, not stick with the point. I agree many such differences in preposition are idiolectal / random, but statistically those differences are "real" (there really are 50K to the plan, and only 10K with the plan). But I do now agree with bib - in certain other contexts that you didn't cover, with/to can both occur with different meanings. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 23:12

The phrases stick with and stick to can both mean continue to support, participate or favor. However there are differences in application.

When talking about an activity, a plan, a tangible or intangible object, the term can have subtly different meanings:

I'm sticking with swimming.
I'm sticking with the plan.
I'm sticking with apples.
I'm sticking with economics.

They all mean I will continue to play, follow, eat or study the focus of my sticking.

However, the phase, sticking to suggest that I'm persevering, but limiting my attention.

I am sticking to swimming.
I am sticking to apples.

This connotes that I will be swimming instead of going out for track, yearbook or some other activity. The pie will not contain pears, just apples.

With regard to people, the phrase sticking with conveys ongoing support.

I'm sticking with fluoride toothpaste.
I'm sticking with Grover Cleveland.

Both convey commitment, to the dental plan or candidate.

However, sticking to with regard to people, means stay close, physically

I am sticking to my kids in their after school activities.
As a parole officer, I am sticking to my parolees like glue.
Oh you can't scare me, I'm stickin' to the union.

And, as Anita said to Maria in West Side Story

A boy like that who'd kill your brother . . . Stick to your own kind

Both exclusionary and staying close.

  • These are tendencies rather than rules. For 'plan' see FumbleFingers' comment on my post. Google "sticking to/with my kids", you get with:5 to:0 true hits. And Woody Guthrie's Union Maid sang "You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union!" . . . but see my Edit. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:03
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    @StoneyB my memory failed me on Woody's locution. I guess he's holding the union very close. Safer when the Pinkertons show up.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:06
  • @StoneyB revised to reflect your helpful observation.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:10
  • When my boy was little the toothpaste mostly stuck to him... Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 22:14
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    I upvoted StoneyB's partly for examples where there's no difference, which imho includes, for example, the plan. But I now recognise that something like stick to swimming can imply exclusively focus on, where with might imply doffedly continue with. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 23:20

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