How would the meaning change, if we changed the prepositions in the following sentences? The following were extracted from Longman Dictionary Online.

This company is very strict about punctuality. ( with)

The Trumps are very strict with their children. (about)

  • "Strict with your children" relates to the rules you set for your children to follow. "Strict about your children" isn't a common expression, but I would interpret it as being about rules you have about how other people interact with your children. So if the Trumps were strict about their children perhaps that might mean for example that they try to keep the kids' pictures from appearing in the newspaper. – nnnnnn May 24 '16 at 5:56
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    This isn't really a matter of grammar. Idiomatically, strict about punctuality is the most common form, but that doesn't make alternatives wrong. Note that strict on punctuality is in fact much more common than with, but they're both "acceptable". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 5 '17 at 14:03

A common meaning of X with Y is being used to express "instrumentality". In this case, it's mostly equivalent to using the words "whenever X use(s)/used Y".

X is strict with punctuality = X is strict whenever X uses punctuality.

Punctuality is not something that is often "used" (like a tool or thing needed to complete an activity) so this would likely sound strange, but a possible valid meaning (and implication if you say this) would be if a manager or someone is known to "use" punctuality to find people to fire or get in trouble.

X about Y is more general than with and doesn't just mean "when X uses Y":

X is strict about punctuality = X is strict with anything X does that has to do with punctuality.

So, if you say something like "My manager is strict about punctuality" - you are saying that anything he/she does as a manager that also would deal with punctuality - he/she would be strict in whatever actions he/she would be doing. All the normal things a manager does in regard to punctuality - whatever they are, he/she is strict while doing those things.

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  • x about is on the subject of. – Lambie Sep 4 '18 at 16:11

Longman's DCE has "strict about sth" and "strict with sb". Link OALD does not mention this construction.

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  • what do you mean? – Mrt Mar 24 '16 at 12:39
  • Longman DCE says strict about punctuality and strict with children.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/strict. Sorry, the link above doesn't seem to work. – rogermue Mar 24 '16 at 16:43

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