Posted by: Jack Henry | January 7, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Won’t You Come With?

This is my first email of 2021, so happy New Year to you all! I wish us all good things this year.

Our friend, Tammy R., recently wrote to ask me about a phrase she’s been hearing lately in the TV shows she watches. Tammy said, “There’s a new way these shows are saying sentences and questions about going with someone. They end the phrases with the word ‘with.’ For instance, one says, ‘I’m going to the store. The other responds, ‘I’ll go with.’ I’ve noticed it on everything from Hallmark™ movies to Yellowstone, to The Crown, to Blue Bloods…It’s everywhere.”

Like Tammy, I’ve heard “come with” and “go with,” but the phrases are not new to me. Still, I’ve never thought about why some people use the phrases or where they (the phrases and the people) come from, so I did a little research. I figured it might be regional, and I was right! I read an article from Yale University (specifically from the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project) and found that this is common terminology used in the Upper Midwest, particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The article said that only certain verbs can be used in this phrasing:

  • come with
  • go with
  • bring with
  • take with
  • ride with (less common)
  • carry with (less common)

And they provided this map that shows the “acceptability” of the “come with” construction. People were asked to “judge” the phrase on a scale from 1 to 5 (with 1 being unacceptable and 5 being fully acceptable). This map shows where people find it most acceptable (dark green) and least acceptable (white):

The words “acceptability” and “judge” seem like loaded, disapproving words to talk about a common phrase, don’t they? But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. Many of us have language pet peeves that we get pretty uptight about. In fact, the goal of the grammatical diversity project was to “…collect data in the form of acceptability judgments in order to determine which kinds of sentences can be generated by individual speakers’ mental grammars and which cannot.” (Click here if you want to read the project description.)

But judgement and acceptability aside, where did the “come with/go with” construction come from? The article said that many Germanic languages, including the Scandinavian languages, have similar constructions, so it makes sense that people in Minnesota and Wisconsin would use the terminology since so many people there come are of Norwegian, Swedish, and German heritage.

So, there you go Tammy! Thanks for asking the question. And a hearty shout out to my Wisconsinite friend (you know who you are JBG). I’ve never been to your neck of the woods, but I’d love to visit. Next time you go, can I come with?

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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  1. My wife and her family are from Wisconsin and on the flip side of “Go with” is “Do you want to go, or no?”

    The “or no” is used a lot at the end of sentences.

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