Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15
  1. #1
    Clark is offline Key Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,573
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default surrounded by vs. with

    Hi

    Are there any semantic differences between ' surrounded by' and 'surrounded with'?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Hi

    Are there any semantic differences between ' surrounded by' and 'surrounded with'?
    This is a magnificently complicated question:

    We were surrounded by mountains on all sides.
    The village was surrounded by troops.
    He was surrounded by fans.

    The cake was surrounded with cherries.
    He surrounded himself with yes-men.
    The jacket was surrounded with a gold trim.

    I don't know the answer, but my feeling is that it depends on whether 'what surrounds' is integral to 'what is surrounded'. That is, the cherries are part of the cake. They are integral to it. The yes-men are a necessary adjunct to 'his' self-important personality, and the gold trim forms part of the jacket........but.......

    We happened to be surrounded by mountains at that point of our journey. The mountains add nothing to us and are not integral to us. The troops surrounding the village are presumably not there for the duration and will leave when their ominous duty is done. And the fans surrounding him will disperse as soon as he gets into his car and leaves.

    'By' indicates a circle around what is surrounded. 'With' indicates that what surrounds forms part of the contour of what is surrounded.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,425
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    We were surrounded by mountains on all sides.
    The village was surrounded by troops.
    He was surrounded by fans.


    'by' is followed by the noun indicating who ACTIVELY is doing the surrounding.
    (even though 'mountains' aren't exactly scurrying into a circle, they are doing the surrounding - they were not placed there for the purposes of surrounding 'us')

    The cake was surrounded with cherries.
    He surrounded himself with yes-men.
    The jacket was surrounded with a gold trim.

    'with' is followed by the noun indicating the PASSIVE state, that it was placed there by someone else. It is not itself initiating the 'surrounding'

  4. #4
    Clark is offline Key Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,573
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    I do appreciate your contributions to this thread.

    Could you please insert by or with in the following sentence:

    The house was surrounded ___ tanks.

    Will it matter whether the tanks are placed there to protect the house or attack it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,425
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    "The house was surrounded by tanks."
    Why not 'with', do I hear someone ask, just as in 'surrounded with cherries'?
    What is 'understood' is:
    "The house was surrounded by (soldiers in/driving) tanks."
    It is the soldiers who have actively deployed the tanks, whether to attack or defend.

    I guess if you had some war museum cum artiliary/war machinery graveyard, a description might be:
    "A central statue to the Fallen in both wars is surrounded with tanks from all countries depicting the development of this war machine through the decades."

    Here the tanks have been placed, and are permanently parked, on display, 'like cherries around a cake.'

  6. #6
    Clark is offline Key Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,573
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    David, If we use 'active vs. passive semantic role' of the surrounding object as a criterion, how would you interprete frommato's sentence 'We were surrounded by mountains on all sides'?

  7. #7
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    Both surrounded by and surrounded with share the semantics 'to encircle', but each means much more than that.

    Consider this example, an army surrounds the castle. Most readers would assume given the word choice that the castle is under seige; however, given a larger context, say, that sentence was part of the description of a day of celebration, the assumption would be soldiers on parade. My point is, without context we don't really know which meaning it is; however, if we add 'by' or 'with', all of a sudden the scope of the semantics becomes narrower:

    Which army surrounds the castle, the warring side's or the castle's?

    [1] The castle was surrounded with an army.
    <supported as in, say, protected; i.e., the castle's army>

    [2] The castle was surrounded by an army.
    <supported as in, say, enclosed; i.e., the warring side's army>

    Another example
    He was surrounded with our love. <protected>
    He was surrounded by our love. <enclosed>


    Note, 'enclosed' isn't the right word for that example, but it's close enough to get my point across. Maybe you, Clark, can provide the word.


    The garden was surrounded with a fence. <protected>
    The garden was surrounded by a fence. <enclosed>



    Oh, and so to answer your question,

    Ex: We were surrounded by moutains <enclosed by; the meaning 'protected' doesn't come into play>
    Last edited by Soup; 24-May-2008 at 13:04. Reason: spelling/typo

  8. #8
    Clark is offline Key Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,573
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    Benissimo!!!

    Now I'm gonna explore if the idea of protected/enclosed space correlates with the idea of integral/independent contour.

  9. #9
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    integral/independent contour.
    Whassat?

  10. #10
    Clark is offline Key Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,573
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: surrounded by vs. with

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Whassat?
    See fromatto's post in this thread.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •