With the verbs from the line: to tremble, shake, shudder, shiver, quiver, jitter and the like the preposition with is mostly used - with hunger, fear, excitement, agitation etc.

With the verbs like to die, cry, faint etc the preposition from is used - from hunger, fear etc.

The meaning of them both is close to "cause, ground".

What trenchant difference between the aforecited verb types can be set up that will give a pellucid explanation as to why one of them [types] is complemented by noun phrases with "with" and the other - with "from", respectively?

  • 2
    You can die of / from / in / by hunger (or die on hunger strike). Some preposition choices may convey (large or small) differences in meaning, so if you died of hunger, it was definitely lack of food that killed you, whereas if you died in hunger, that could simply mean you were hungry at the time when someone shot you. But in many cases it's perfectly okay to use any of multiple prepositions, even though there's no "logic" to the choice actually made. Sadly, for the most part you just have to learn which usages are "idiomatically established", and which aren't. Oct 8, 2021 at 13:32
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you. So "to die from..." and to "die of hunger" are absolutely equipollent, aren't they? And what is the distinction between "of/from" and "by" as regards "dying" and "hunger"?
    – user144206
    Oct 8, 2021 at 14:59
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    On a side note "What trenchant difference between the aforecited verb types can be set up that will give a pellucid explanation" sounds affected or stilted. "aforecited" is almost never used "previously cited" or in the case 'previously mentioned" is more natural. "pellucid " is now a poetic or literary usage. "Clear" would be more natural. "trenchant" means "vigorous or incisive in expression or style." here "principled" or some phrase based on "rule" would be both more accurate and more natural. Oct 8, 2021 at 18:00
  • @Eugene By "stilted" I mean: "awkward, selecting words by dictionary meanings without considering proper flow and context" Stilted language suggests poor English skills. By "affected" I mean falsely assuming an elite or over-obscure tone, often through complex or obscure words when common ones will do, indeed will be better. This may imply "pretentious" I am not British and have never lived or visited there, although I read much UK fiction and some UK non-fiction. I suspect the sentence would sound odd there also, but I cannot be sure. Oct 8, 2021 at 18:54
  • @David Siegel Thank you. I think the kernel of OP's question is that many learners are inclined not to abide by idiomacy (I don't know whether such approach is right but on the other hand taking only a cram course in idiomacy takes up much memory) which is unavailing without profound knowledge of grammar. That is why many learners implement words as if they were bricks and grammar - as cement, often to the detriment of idiomacy. And issues concerning usage of prepositions are rather difficult.
    – Eugene
    Oct 8, 2021 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


The preposition differences are subtle here.

The first group of verbs you have listed are behaviors that exhibit or communicate the sensation the person is feeling. Trembling with fear means that fear is shown by trembling.

Dying/fainting from fear is a significant change that the person undergoes, caused by fear. Out of is equivalent to from in this context.

Laughing/crying can be understood as expressions of a sensation or as activities caused by a sensation, so the choice of preposition is more flexible.

Of is also idiomatic with some verbs. The cause of death can be expressed this way: dying of hunger.

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