______down, she bricks up the firebox as well, sealing the remaining heat inside. (A question from an ACT English test)

"Once the blaze dies" is the correct one to fill in the blank, which I can understand grammatically, but I still think the other option, With a blaze that dies, could also be fine. What's the nuance that makes the difference between these two options?


I want to know why "with a blaze that dies down" is not idiomatic? I think it is correct in terms of both syntax and semantics. Or simply I should learn it by merely memorizing such non-idiomatic error because that's how English speakers are used to say.

  • Once the blaze dies down means when the blaze has died down. The firebox is bricked up when there are no more flames. With a blaze doesn't have this implication. Nov 23, 2020 at 8:40
  • @Kate Bunting but with could mean "because of sth and as it happens," so I think it does have the implication Dec 8, 2020 at 11:57
  • Take my word for it, it isn't idiomatic English. "With the blaze dying down..." could work. Dec 8, 2020 at 15:39
  • I understand you want your question migrated, but it is not on-topic on ELU. It'd likely get closed over on ELU. @KateBunting has explained that one of them is not idiomatic. If you want a more detailed explanation, starting a bounty on the question is your best bet.
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 26, 2020 at 2:34
  • 1
    Well, learning to use a language idiomatically is hard. I hope ELL and ELU have been of help. There is really no shortcut to it, no quick and dirty manuals you can read. Here is my suggestion. You can edit your question to include a follow-up question asking for answers that explain why "with a blaze that dies down" is not idiomatic. That way the question is clearer and more likely to get an answer.
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 26, 2020 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


It doesn't work because it sounds like a prepositional phrase that modifies how she "bricks up" -- something like, "With a cement spout that looks heavy, she bricks up the firebox" or "With a new computer, she organizes her files." As Kate Bunting has commented, "with a [noun]" doesn't have the meaning of "once" or "because." It's more like "by means of."

It's different from "with [noun] [present participle]"-- a construction that highlights simultaneous and causal action. An example would be something like: "With prices increasing, demand for the product has started to fall."

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