I know that BOTH with's below are necessary, because they are required in my rewrites below. But when I see 2 with's in the relative clause "with1 which [subject] engaged with2", these 2 with's still appear superfluous to me! I still feel that one can be deleted without losing meaning. Why? Can someone please help me overcome this psycholinguistic or optical illusion?

They engaged with2 us with1 enthusiasm. ⟸

Along the way, they invited other artists along with them, and we are very grateful for the enthusiasm with1 which they engaged with2 us.

Máiréad Enright, Northern / Irish Feminist Judgments 2017, p 18 last sentence.

You engaged with2 this book with1 enthusiasm. ⟸

Thank you for the care with1 which you engaged with2 this book[,] and the detailed and generative feedback you offered twice over.

Nicole Charles, Suspicion Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados, Acknowledgements, 1st of 2 pages, but n. pag. (.

I engaged with2 my Tanzanian texts with1 the toolkit [that] was 'outstanding in its usefulness and clarity [...]'. ⇐

The toolkit with1 which I engaged with2 my Tanzanian texts in the 1980s was outstanding in its usefulness and clarity—we had standard "recipes," so to speak, for doing the work of political discourse analysis. ⟸

Christian W. Chun, Applied Linguistics and Politics 2022, p. 30

He engaged with2 the new Conrad project with1 with the energy indicated[d] [in] Loerke's later diary. ⟸

Loerke's later diary entries indicate the energy with1 which he engaged with2 the new Conrad project.

Anthony Fothergill, Secret Sharers Joseph Conrad's Cultural Reception in Germany 2006, p. 31.

Second, the overall frequency with1 which he engaged with2 both terms increased significantly after the mid-1970s.

Thomas Lemke, The Government of Things Foucault and the New Materialisms 2021, p 105.

Despite shortcomings in the narratives of Hastings Neville and Augustus Hare, they provide the best available insights into Waterford's philanthropic activity, and into the unaffected manner — contrary to the standards of the era — with1 which she engaged with2 her tenantry and the poor.

Caroline Ings-Chambers, Louisa Waterford and John Ruskin 2017, p 195.

  • Do you mean: why 2 with?
    – Joachim
    Aug 14, 2022 at 8:14
  • Don't do this: with's. - You must not use a possessive apostrophe for a plural. You are allowed to use a plural form of a preposition (such as 'with') when discussing the word itself e.g. I counted five ands, six buts and two withs in one sentence. Aug 14, 2022 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


They are both necessary. One with attaches to engage. The other attaches to enthusiasm, care, toolkit, etc.

What you are experiencing is a rejection of the style, not the grammar. And I feel your pain. The sentences sound awkward. If I were writing them, I would revise to eliminate the repetition. My instinct would be to replace engage with, I think. It has a trendy, psychobabble quality that I dislike.

  • Thanks! " And I feel your pain. The sentences sound awkward." Can you please elaborate? Why exactly? I just fancy pinpointing the root of my pain. "It has a trendy, psychobabble quality that I dislike." Please elaborate? What's this "trendy, psychobabble quality"?
    – user8712
    Aug 15, 2022 at 0:48
  • The repetition sounds awkward. As to the other, in normal conversation, we don't usually speak of people engaging with things. It's the kind of thing I expect an incompetent department manager to say when they have returned to the office with "fresh ideas" from a management conference. But that's a rather subjective statement. Aug 15, 2022 at 3:35

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