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    #1

    Confronted with or confronted by?

    In one of my sentence rewriting exercise, I made this sentence:

    "When confronted by a mass of red tape, many people feel a sense of helplessness."

    But my teacher said it was incorrect and tell me this is the correct answer:
    "When confronted with a mass of red tape, many people feel a sense of helplessness."

    I don't get it. Isn't this supposed to be a passive voice?

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    #2

    Re: Confronted with or confronted by?

    Either preposition works for me.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Confronted with or confronted by?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Either preposition works for me.
    Me too.

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    #4

    Re: Confronted with or confronted by?

    "By" personalizes the red tape in my opinion. When you use "by", you allow the following transformation:

    When red tape confronts them, many people feel a sense of helplessness.


    It's another thing whether this sentence would be said by a native speaker. It doesn't sound very natural to me. But that's what "by" is about (in this structure) -- it introduces the agent, one who acts. When you say

    I was confronted by red tape.

    you say that the red tape acted to confront you. There's a faint memory of half-forgotten humor in this construction.

    That's my feeling at least. Please note that I'm not a native speaker.

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Confronted with or confronted by?

    I agree with this. I'd use "from" for inanimate objects, "by" for willful or sentient entities.

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    #6

    Re: Confronted with or confronted by?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I agree with this. I'd use "from" for inanimate objects, "by" for willful or sentient entities.
    And that's exactly how red tape seems at times.

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