0

In one of my previous questions, Tiercelet left a comment:

It's a pleasure to work with such well-thought-out and nuanced questions!

It seems work with has a similar meaning to work on or work at here.

However, I have consulted multiple dictionaries. They don't have examples for work with. Could work on or work at be used here instead?

User3169 provided a source below I had failed to look up. The TheFreeDictionary offers several examples:

Let me work with him for a while. I'll convince him.

I want to work with this engine and see if I can get it started.

But I would have worded them this way:

Let me work on him for a while. I'll convince him. (Or simply, let me work (transitive) him for a while. )

I want to work at/on this engine and see if I can get it started.

Any different connotations implied?

2

Work with X does not have to be a phrasal verb, it can mean literally "to work with X" - e.g. "I worked with John at the factory."

Phrasally, it means to A) to use X, typically toward completing a task or project, B) rely on X for assistance with or make sure X completes a task or project.

Work on/at X does not have to be a phrasal verb, it can mean literally what it says - "John and I worked on the loading dock today" or "John and I worked at the factory today."

Phrasally, both work on X and work at X mean to to do things over time to improve X or move X towards completion. Work at X is tends to be used when X is something abstract without a defined end goal.

The difference in meanings usually depends on whether X is a person or not.

I worked with John today. (John and I worked together today)

I worked with the new machine today. (I used the new machine today)

I worked on the roof today (I was on top of the roof - but can also mean the roof was a project and you moved forward with completing it)

I worked on the project today (I tried to move forward on the project, I was not standing on an object known as "project")

I worked at the jail today (I was at the jail, working while there)

I worked at improving our processes today. (We don't have a definite plan for improving our processes, but we want to, and I did some things that can help.)

  • Could you address the specific examples in my Q rather than provide your own? I'd like to know if work on/at could deliver a different connotation. – Kinzle B Aug 2 '16 at 1:04
0

Let take it with your examples

Let me work with him for a while. I'll convince him.

Here it means that you want to work with him on some project. In between you will try to convince him on project or something else.

Let me work on him for a while. I'll convince him.

Here it means that you want to try something or talk to him on a project which you want him to get convinced on.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.