In dictionary,

with /wɪð, wɪθ/ ●●● S1 W1 preposition

2 having, possessing, or carrying something

a tall gentleman with a beard

a book with a green cover

a man with a gun

We need someone with new ideas.

Only people with plenty of money can afford to shop here.

She came back with a letter in her hand.

So, if I say "I am having rice with chicken and broccoli", does it mean that "They are all in a plate" as in this picture:

enter image description here

But Asian people often have dishes separately.

Let say a man have this meal (3 separated dishes) as showed in the following picture:

enter image description here

SO, would the man be wrong if he said: "I am having rice with chicken and broccoli"?

  • 2
    1. used to say that two or more people or things are together in the same place You skipped over the first definition, but that's the one being used.
    – j4eo
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 7:02
  • 3
    What makes you doubt the veracity of the definition and examples of the use of "with" that are provided in Longmans and every other dictionary? Are you having trouble reading and understanding them? What difference does it make if the meal is served in Asia or Antarctica? (I suspect that you just enjoy uploading pictures of food.) Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 7:34
  • Loosely related, I'm trying to look for the older question which had a similar request, in the meantime: “There IS/ARE rice, meat and potatoes on my plate” and The US/UK word for Turkish sandwich filled with meat, salad and sauce
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 11:14
  • Can't find the older Q, but here's another post related: “and” with meals - eating separately or together
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 11:25
  • Why do you think with here means "on the same plate"? Rather, it implies "eating together" as in "I am eating rice with chicken and broccoli". Plates are only for arrangement and keeping your table clean.
    – user3169
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:30

3 Answers 3


A preposition like with can have pages devoted to it, so it seems rather perverse to focus on one definition and question its applicability to your food scenario.

Among the meanings of with are

"accompanied by" as in pancakes with bacon and eggs


"having bits of something (as in an admixture)" as in chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

You can choose which meaning fits your rice dish better. Are the ingredients separated, side by side, or one on top of the other? Stirred up together? You won't know until you see it. If it's take out, probably the former. If it's in restaurant, perhaps the later.

P.S. You could even be served (or serve) those three things in succession and still describe the entire meal as "rice with chicken and broccoli". It might not be the clearest way to go about it, but many people might do so. If you wanted to make absolutely clear that the items were served in succession, then you wouldn't even use the preposition with: We had rice, then chicken, then broccoli.

  • Indeed. And of course there are an infinite number of ways to disambiguate the meanings. Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 15:45

"With" means, as j4eo put it, "together in the same place". Having "rice with chicken and broccoli" technically means you could be having it on the same plate, or separately but in one meal. However it's a bit clumsy, and you're right in that it lacks specificity. In general, if you're having them on the same plate you'd say "rice with chicken and broccoli", but if it's a three-course meal and rice, chicken and broccoli are distinct, separate dishes, you'd instead say "rice, chicken and broccoli".


In the culinary context, "Rice with..." is a specific term indicating the secondary item is prepared, together, mixed in with the rice.

For example, Arroz con Pollo/Rice with Chicken is prepared in a single pot with rice, chicken, vegetables and other ingredients all cooked together.

If they are prepared separately and plated apart, that would be "Rice and Chicken" or "Chicken and Beans".

  • 1
    Ignore any downvotes unless they're explained. Otherwise, it's wrong and misleading. This Answer is 100% correct.
    – DTRT
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 16:17

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