With respect to FumbleFingers for providing his Google search of "provides me an excuse" in this comment I would like to ask when and in which cases can we omit "with" when we place the indirect object right before the direct object after the verb "provide"?

I searched in Oxford, Cambridge, Macmillan, Collins, Longman, and Merriam-Webster dictionaries and none of them allow us to use a direct object right after the indirect object with the verb "provide" without the preposition "with" in between. That is, it is wrong to say "provide somebody something".

  • I think you will find the absence of with as in "provides me an excuse" to correlate with a somewhat more formal register. It is certainly grammatical. google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:20
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I can understand that it is grammatical, but I can't find reference to this grammar and any explanation. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:52
  • See page 40 here. books.google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:23
  • Of relevance: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/11583/…
    – G-Cam
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:49
  • From Collins English Usage 2003: You can say that you provide someone with what they want. Mrs Castle had provided her with a list. The government cannot provide all young people with a job. Note that you must use with in sentences like these. You do not say that you provide someone what they want. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


It appears to be a British vs American English issue. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage: Convention dictates that certain verbs and related words are followed by particular prepositions/particles. Words like compare/comparison take either with or to, and differ/different may take from, to or than, depending on the context, and which part of the English-speaking world you belong to. In Britain you fill in a form, whereas in the US you would express it as fill out. Note also the fact that, in American English, no preposition at all is needed with some verbs which do require one in British English. Compare:

British -- American

cater for a party -- cater a party

protest against the war -- protest the war

provide us with a plan -- provide us a plan

wrote to his MP -- wrote his Congressman

  • Interestingly, in Canadian English (at least as I hear it spoken), any of these forms can be heard, although some are more common than others. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 20:04
  • 1
    Since provide {recipient} {something} was used in England in the 19th century, I wouldn't say it was a BrE versus AmE thing at all, but a PDE (British) versus a 19th c. BrE thing. The British began to consider it ungrammatical.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 20:20

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