I know that both "with" and "by" can be used to say how something is done. After "with", we use an object and after "by" we use a method.

For example, "I cut the cake with a knife" and "I cut the cake by using a knife"

If we don't have a knife, we might say "I cut the cake with my hand" and "I cut the cake by hand".

Now, a man's hands and legs got tied together but his mouth was free. There was a knife next to him and he had to use his mouth to take hold of the knife to cut the rope.

So, there were 3 things involved: the rope, the knife and the mouth.

I can say lengthily like this "Hold the knife with your mouth and then cut the rope with the knife".

Can we make that sentence shorter by saying "Cut the rope with a knife with your mouth"?

  • 3
    You can't cut a cake with your hand because your hand isn't sharp; you would have to break/tear it apart. Doing something 'by hand' usually means 'not using a machine'. You would have to grip the handle of a knife between your teeth in order to cut something with it, so we would say with a knife held between your teeth. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 17:39
  • Hold the knife in your mouth to cut the rope. Short.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 19:21
  • Such a contrived bizarre situation, only you could have come up with it! Have you ever tried cutting meat with a knife clasped in your mouth? Would you grip it vertically (?) between your teeth?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 19:52
  • If this is a scene from a movie, it usually involves two people, the one hostage cuts free the other hostage by either kneeling or bending down to reach the rope. Perhaps a razor would be able to cut through a rope, maybe a knife with a really really sharp blade. I sincerely think this question belongs in Movies and TV : Has anyone, in a movie or TV show, ever freed their hands tied up with a rope using a knife grasped in their mouth? P.S In movies and maybe in real life, hostage's hands are often tied behind their back.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


You can express what you are trying to express but you would not express it as you have. Since putting a knife in your mouth and using that knife to cut a rope is not a common situation, you will need to provide a bit more information in your statement to prevent your reader from getting lost and confused. You would say something like,

Use your mouth to cut the rope with the knife.

Saying, Use your mouth, immediately clarifies what you are requesting. In the situation you describe, context will help clear up any ambiguity in the above statement.


No, with a knife with your mouth doesn't make any sense. If someone said that, I would say, "Huh? Do you want me to use a knife, or do you want me to use my mouth?" It really just doesn't make any sense because the man is not cutting the rope with his mouth.

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