There are two sentences like these.

  1. He held my wrists.
  2. He held me by the wrists

What is the difference between the two expressions in meaning?

  • You are asking many questions about prepositions today! Some excellent primers on prepositions in English are here, with "infographics" to help you understand them. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '16 at 20:45

To me, the second version would be more likely to be used if the grip was very firm: as in, preventing you from getting away.

  1. He held my wrists and looked lovingly in my eyes.

2a. "You're not going anywhere!" he said as he held me by the wrists.

2b. I fell over the ledge and grabbed the edge just in time. He held me by the wrists until more people could help to pull me back up.

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