The 12th entry for "leave" in OAAD:

-- to allow somebody to take care of something

leave somebody/something + adv./prep. You can leave the cooking to me.

She left her assistant in charge.

Leave it with me — I'm sure I can sort it out.

‘Where shall we eat?’ ‘I’ll leave it entirely (up) to you (= you can decide).’

They left me with all the clearing up.

leave somebody/something to do something I was left to cope on my own.

Does "leave sth to sb" have the same connotation as "leave sth with sb"?

We can see that the collocations of "leave" with preposition phrases are highly flexible. I reword these examples as:

You can leave me with the cooking.

You can leave the cooking with me.

Leave it to me — I'm sure I can sort it out.

Leave me with it — I'm sure I can sort it out.

They left all the clearing up with/to me.

Do they sound equally natural?

3 Answers 3


1: Leave it to me
2: Leave it with me
3: Leave me with it (not idiomatically common/valid for OP's context)

Both the above (valid) forms can be approximately paraphrased as I'm sure I can sort it out, in that they both carry the strong implication You don't need to deal with this, because I [can and] will.

But in practice, #1 is usually used in contexts where the speaker is declaring that [perhaps only] he has the skill and/or right to deal with "it" (some problem, or decision). Context dictates whether he's warning the other person not to get involved, or reassuring them that they don't need to bother, etc. Context also dictates whether you'll be dealing with it immediately, or at some future time.

On the other hand, #2 is almost never used with that warning sense, or in contexts where you're just about to deal with the matter. It's almost exclusively used in contexts where you're telling the other person you will get around to resolving the issue, but not right now. That's to say, the problem is now "with" you - you've taken "ownership" of it, and will make sure it's resolved (in a timely manner).

Note that #3 above isn't "ungrammatical". It can be used in certain circumstances, but it doesn't really mean I take responsibility for this issue. It occurs in contexts where there was never any doubt that the speaker is responsible for dealing with whatever is under discussion - he just needs more time (leave me alone with the problem; don't distract me by asking about it again until I've sorted it out).


A variant on the sense of reassurance that FumbleFingers mentions.

Leave it to {name}!

is also an exclamation which can be paraphrased, "It's just like {name} to do something like that. Few, if any, people would do that. But he always does. "

Leave it to Joe to point out the risk of catastrophe here! It'll never happen, not in a million years.

In other words, Joe always worries about things that are extremely unlikely.

Leave it to Mike to point out the sexual double-entendre!

Mike is forever pointing out how what someone has said can be taken in another way.

We can trust that {name} will act in this way. It's not behavior we wish for, but we can trust that it will happen.


Do they mean the same thing? Yes and no. They can mean the same thing, or they can mean different things.

Leave it to me almost always means "I will handle the problem." For example,

"This customer is very angry, and I don't know what to tell him."
"Don't worry! Leave it to me."

Leave it with me can imply the same thing, but it can also mean more literally leaving an item with someone. For example,

The neighbors are on vacation, so they left their dog with me.

In a usage like this, I am taking care of the dog, but it also literally means that the neighbors have left their dog at my house.

From my perspective as a speaker of American English, I would say use "leave it to me" when you mean "I will handle the problem". "Leave it with me" does not imply that as strongly; use "with" when you literally mean leaving an object with you.

ps. One alternate meaning of "leave it to me" is "Write in your will that I get it when you die", but I think this sense is usually obvious from context.

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