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I heard John Kirby said this:

“We have been, from the beginning of this war now 11 months ago, have been evolving the capabilities we’re providing with Ukraine, with the conditions on the ground,”

I know "provide with" is a natural combination of words but I am pretty sure this is not the case, I think he should have used "to" Could somebody please confirm?

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  • Most people would probably prefer to, but with, regarding, concerning are all at least "acceptable". And imho they all carry a shade less "commitment" than the default preposition. It's not something to fret about, though Jan 26, 2023 at 2:21
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you! Did you forget to put the "of" in a shade of less commitment?
    – Quique
    Jan 26, 2023 at 2:27
  • Certainly not! Not that including "of" would be invalid - it would just never be my choice, Jan 26, 2023 at 3:07

2 Answers 2

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The prepositional phrases starting with "with" are going with the verb evolve, not with the word provide.

In other words, we can rephrase it as:

We are providing some capabilities. We have been evolving them with Ukraine, with conditions on the ground.

The first "with" means "alongside"; the second means "in accordance with."

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'provide Ukraine with' is best

Here are two alternative, normal-speech English versions of the longer phrase:

...the capabilities we're providing Ukraine with

...given we're providing Ukraine with these capabilities

This second example above shows what with would mean. While with is a preposition, prepositions can be used by themselves if the noun they accompany is unknown in a somewhat re-arranged sentence, meaning something like this...

We're providing Ukraine with capabilities and have been evolving the capabilities we’re providing Ukraine with.

In that example, with somewhat points to the previous with. Because we already know this, we don't need the part of the sentence before and in order for this to work. Hence providing Ukraine with is best.

This would use to:

...the capabilities we're providing to Ukraine

Note that with and to would both come from the Dative Noun Case, if translating from Russian, Greek, German, Czech, et cetera. In English, the two prepositions are similar and often exchangeable, though not identical. So, the speech pattern from John Kirby might indicate a "speaking mistake made by someone with advanced English skill". If he was typing it out, he might have likely used providing Ukraine with.

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