Does the phrase "fighting their suppression" mean "fighting against their suppression"? Or "fighting for their suppression"?

The Democrats tweeted:

Republicans are taking aim at measures like early voting to disenfranchise people, specifically Black voters, who helped power Democratic victories in 2020 and 2021. We'll be there fighting their suppression every step of the way — in court and at the ballot box.

2 Answers 2


There is a scene in the Monty Python film Life of Brian where the protagonist tries to stop a brawl between two factions of anti-Roman rebels. “Brothers, brothers,” he urges, “we should be fighting together.”

One of the combatants points out, “We are!”

The verb to “to fight” in English can be slippery. With a direct object, it does default to “fighting against”, if the object is a combatant or an enemy — but if it is a conflict itself, you can only guess from context.

Someone who is “fighting the Iraq War”, is he out in the desert, dodging (or setting) IEDs? Or is he marching in a protest, calling for to bring the troops home? No way to know from the sentence itself.

If the object is some cause, condition, or situation, as in the original example, it’s almost always against: if you are fighting suppression, deportation, or cancer, you are fighting against them.

“For” and “against” remove the ambiguity but “with” deepens it. A man fighting “with” his brother might equally well be in some contention with the sibling, or allied with him against a common foe.


Without the preposition "for", suppression is the direct object, and one fights against something, i.e., suppression the thing being fought.

  • Sorry, it didn't help. Suppression as the direct object, Do "we" fight for it or do we fight against it?
    – NewPlanet
    Mar 7, 2021 at 5:24
  • 1
    The idea that the writer is trying to convey is that they will be fighting against the suppression of black votes. Grammatically, the sentence requires AGAINST to make sense. Mar 7, 2021 at 9:03
  • 1
    If you 'fight someone/something', the implied meaning is that you are fighting against them/it. Mar 7, 2021 at 9:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .