Attachment theory proposes that our early life experiences with the major figures responsible for our well-being, namely parents or other caregivers, are at the root of our connections to the adults with whom we form close relationships.

I understand the meaning of this line, but can you define the meaning of with here, can you perhaps quote a definition from dictionary for me? I was translating a short passage so I wonder if this with is translatable or definable.

Apart from the first request/query, I actually have another one. In spoken English, if I were to say something like this, I would insert a being between figures and responsible, is it grammatical?

I don’t know why but I just feel like putting a being there; if it makes sense, what the difference between the two sentences?

2 Answers 2


Reduce the phrase to a minimum to better understand it: "experiences with major figures." You might substitute, "experiences with pets".

In a résumé, one might write, "experience with LibreOffice."

If you use "being," it changes the sense completely, i.e., "life experiences with being the major figures..." implies that we are the major figure, not our parents, etc.

A physician might ask someone, "Have you have had other experiences being faint?"


The word "with" generally means that two things are or were together. Like, "Sally was with Bob", Sally and Bob were in the same place. It can also mean "together" in a more abstract sentence, like, "Justice must be tempered with mercy". Not that "justice" and "mercy" are two objects that are in the same room, but that they are two ideas that go together.

In a vaguely similar way, we use "with" to qualify many verbs, to specify just what context we are using the verb in. Like, "I have experience in accounting." "I am shy with women." Etc.

That's basically the sense here. When the writer says "experience with major figures", he is saying that the person has "experience", but what sort of experience? Experience with major figures.

RE "being": I think DrMoishe misread your question. Yes, if you said "experience with being major figures", that would change the sentence from active to passive. That is, it would change the person being discussed from the one served by the "major figures" to the one who is the major figure.

But you said you want to put "being" AFTER "major figures", i.e. "... with major figures being responsible for ..." I'm not sure how that would affect the meaning of the sentence. It would just be an awkward, unnecessary extra word. No, I wouldn't do that.

  • Alright cool, thanks Jay. Does the adjective responsible modify "major figures"? I wanna put a "being" there cuz I thought there's no verb before responsible.
    – Angyang
    Jul 30, 2021 at 9:22
  • 1
    Yes, "responsible" is part of the adjective phrase "responsible for our well-being", which modifies "figures". This phrase does not need a verb. It's not an independent clause, it's ... just a phrase. This is a complex sentence, but the subject is "theory" and the verb is "proposes". This is followed by a subordinate clause with subject "experiences" and verb "are". This is a very complex sentence that many fluent speakers would likely have trouble analyzing, so I understand your difficulties.
    – Jay
    Jul 30, 2021 at 14:21
  • Thanks for all the explanations Jay, and what you said at the end makes me feel way better hhh, thanks~
    – Angyang
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:48

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