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His path was beset _____ difficulties.

A) by B) with

I am confused between the two, some sites suggest "with" while some suggest "by".

Can anyone explain when to use which?

  • My answer to the above question is 'with' His path was beset with difficulties – Usman.K.M. Jan 10 at 9:37
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Checking Cambridge answers this:

beset (adj): having a lot of trouble with something, or having to deal with a lot of something that causes problems.

The example follows:

With the amount of traffic nowadays, even a trip across town is beset by/with dangers.

I also checked various other sources including news where I could find both the usage. So, without any worry, you can use either of them.

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For me, "beset by" suggests more agency on the part of the thing(s) doing the besetting, whereas "beset with" suggests a more static viewpoint, and references the beset entity existing with/alongside the besetting forces.

As an example, in most circumstances it would sound better to say, "beset with problems", as opposed to "beset by problems".

Also, I did a Google search, and "beset by demons" returned 12 times the amount of results as "beset with demons" (the latter suggesting a different meaning to me, i.e. the demons are "already there", so to speak, whereas "beset by" focuses much more on the attack).

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