I've just heard again the famous Star Wars line "The Force is strong with him", and I've been struck by a question: why does it say that the Force is strong with him? Why is the preposition "with" used?

I'm not a native, but it sounds weird to me. Wouldn't it be better to say that the Force is strong in someone? In Episode VI, "Return of the Jedi", Luke himself says that the Force is strong in his family. It's also said again in the Official Teaser Trailer #2 of The Force Awakens.

I am certainly influenced by the way it is said in my native language, Italian ("la Forza è potente in lui"), and also in German ("Die Macht ist stark in ihm"). But "with" just sounds terribly out of place to me.

Of course I realise that such a famous sentence can't really be wrong, but I still find it strange enough that I'd like to ask about it. Does this word choice make the sentence sound more solemn, maybe?

...Or is it just me, and there's really nothing special about it?

  • 1
    Also consider the phrase "May the force be with you." I have a feeling that this is more of a Science Fiction & Fantasy question than an English question, because it depends on your understanding of the nature of The Force.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 1:25
  • 1
    There are many cases in English where more than one preposition works just fine. This is one of them.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 1:35
  • See also "What are the permissible things in the Yoda dialect?"
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 1:54
  • I suppose it was inevitable that someone would conclude that Yoda was a native English speaker. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


George Lucas apparently intended "The Force" to be a kind of universal power that was not inherent to any individual, but rather something generated by all living things. Certain talented individuals (like Jedi) can tap into the Force to use in various unique ways, but it is with them, not in them.

The mystical quality is reinforced by the oft-repeated

May the Force be with you

which is similar to a religious benediction like

May the blessing of God be with you and your family this holiday season

Yoda himself says:

For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.

Which is to say, the Force is not something that goes into your body, but is with you all the time, if you can perceive it.

However, one of the lines in Return of the Jedi does say,

The Force is strong in my family

so it's not entirely cut-and-dried. In this case, it's likely Lucas is just mirroring the common expression when referring to about hereditary traits:

Red hair runs in my family.

Later, he further complicates the issue with the whole midichlorian thing -- but most fans don't want to talk about that.

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