Using the Prepositions “By” & “With” – English Grammar Lesson

Michael Grammar Leave a Comment

I like to make my own pizza by hand. I make it with homemade crust and sauce. The crust is made with flour and I make the sauce with fresh tomatoes. In my neighborhood, the pizza is made by an old Italian guy who opened the pizzeria about 40 years ago. He makes all of the food there by hand, except the pasta. That is probably made in a factory by machine.

For today’s free English Lesson, we are going to look at two prepositions that are often confused, by and with. Have a look at the paragraph above once more and then check the lesson.

We use by to show how someone does something, or how something is done. When we use by + a noun, we don’t use “a” or “the” before the noun:

  • This bread was made by hand. Not, …made by a hand.
  • I found a great little café near my office by accident. Not,…by the accident.
  • You can pay* by check or credit card.

*Note that with the verb pay, we say pay by check and pay by credit card, but pay in cash.

We use by to show how someone does something but we use with to show the tool or object used to do something:

  • I made this cake by hand.
  • I made this cake with the oven.
  • I found this café by accident.
  • I found this café with the map in my smartphone.

In a passive sentence as well, we generally prefer to use by to show the actor (the person doing the action) and with to show the tool or object used to do something:

  • This bread was made by hand.
  • This bread was made with the finest organic flour available.
  • The window was repaired by Yalcin, our best repairman.
  • The window was repaired with wood and silicone glue.

Now it’s your turn. How about writing a few sentences using by or with in the comment box below? I’ll review them for you!