Submitted by ec on June 22, 2005

Assist in or assist with

Which is correct? (Intentional use of telegraphic style) Assists attorney in drafting documentation. Assists attorney with drafting documentation.

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I agree but would like to be more specific.
"assists in" is followed by a verb.
"assists with" is followed by a noun.
It just so happens that drafting can be a verb or a noun, so both sentences make sense if only slightly different in meaning.

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Both sentences are valid, but mean different things:

1. "in" - drafting means creating
2. "with" - drafting is a type of documentation, just as logging documentation or cooking documentation would be.

And 2 isn't well phrased even if that were the desired meaning. Which it presumably wasn't.

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The first is correct. The second case would be correct if rearranged:

Assists attorney with documentation drafting.

My reasoning is that in the first case, the person assists the attorney in drafting the documentation. "The" is understood to have been excluded in what you refer to as telegraphic style, or "the" can be dispensed with on the grounds that "documentation" is a thing. It's a noun. So it's correct to say the person assists, assists who? the lawyer, in what activity? drafting, drafting what? documentation.

In the second case, the person assists the attorney. With what? Here is where it doesn't work. "With what?" has to be answered with an activity. Drafting, by itself, would be ok. But "drafting" could mean many things. So we modify the name of the activity to say "documention drafting."

I'm sure there could be a more technical explanation, but I am fairly confident that I am right.

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Hi,

Which sentence is the correct one :
- Assists with coordinating the credit control,
- Assisting with coordinating ...

Maybe you have better solution ?

TKS!!!

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@MD - Both are correct, but "assist in" seems to be the most popular. Learner's dictionaries, for example, allow both, but most of the examples they seem to give are with 'assist in'. Incidentally, learner's dictionaries are rather better at giving this sort of information than standard dictionaries:

"assist in/with something" - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
"We are looking for people who would be willing to assist in the group's work."

"assist in/with"- Macmillan's Dictionary
Several top landscape designers assisted in the creation of the garden.

"assist (somebody) with/in something" - Longman's
You will be employed to assist in the development of new equipment.

"assist the police with/in their inquiries (UK)" - Cambridge Dictionary

The American Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary gives these examples:

" Another doctor assisted with the operation."
"Federal agents are assisting with the investigation."
"She assisted in making the decision."
"The cream assists in the prevention of skin cancer."

At Ngram, the ratio of "assist in the project"to "assist with the project" is about 3.5 : 2. In general, it puts "assist in" quite considerably in the lead, and this graph also shows that both 'in' and 'with' can be used with the same words, for example "assist in/with the development", "assist in/with the preparation" (the most common collocations):

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=as...*%2Cassist+with+the+*&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=18&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Cassist%20in%20the%20*%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20defence%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20work%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20formation%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20development%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20execution%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20establishment%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20production%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20process%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20maintenance%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20in%20the%20preparation%3B%2Cc0%3B.t2%3B%2Cassist%20with%20the%20*%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20development%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20work%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20preparation%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20other%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20cost%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20provision%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20design%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20harvest%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20construction%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bassist%20with%20the%20implementation%3B%2Cc0

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@Elena Dolnova - the grammatical functions are different:

Assists with ... is a verb and needs a subject - She assists / I assist with coordinating credit control (better without "the")

Assisting with ... is a Noun phrase - "My job involves assisting with the coordination of ... (it's better to avoid having two -ing forms together)

If it's for something like a CV, which you use would depend on the rest of the paragraph; you could use all verbs, or all gerunds (-ing forms) and nouns.

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Which sentence is the correct one :
I am glad I could assist in the project.
or
I am glad I could assist with the project.

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Sorry, that Ngram address didn't work. Go to http://books.google.com/ngrams and enter:

assist in the *,assist with the *

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Incidentally, I somewhat disagree with those earlier commentors who see a difference in meaning between the two, or say that 'in' is followed by a verb, and 'with' by a noun.

Both 'in' and 'with' are prepositions, so the only verb form that can follow either is a gerund (-ing form), which is in fact a verbal noun, rather than a verb per se.

While Ngram certainly shows that before gerunds, 'in' is nearly always used, it also clearly shows that 'in' is preferred before standard nouns as well.

And it also shows that while 'in' before gerunds is still way in the lead, 'with' before gerunds is increasing in use, at the expense of 'in', in American English., at least:

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=as...

At Netspeak, the percentage of 'assist' followed by 'in' is 16.3% , compared to 6.7% for 'with':

http://www.netspeak.org/#query=assist+*

And 'assist in the' gets 5.1 % to 1.5% for 'assist with'

At the British National Corpus there are 541 instances of 'assist in', compared with 167 of 'assist in'. While many of those with 'in' are followed by gerunds, many are also followed by standard nouns:

"the civil servants he appointed to assist in the work"
"a suggestion from the Ministry of Supply to assist in the production of railway bridges"
"About the only contribution information technology can make is to assist in the compilation of cricket statistics. "
"Numerous tests are available to assist in the systematic assessment of a wide range of grammatical abilities"

Similarly,while the majority of instances of 'assist with' are followed by nouns, there are also quite a few followed by gerunds:

"Volunteers are welcome to assist with staffing of the City Varieties"
"where one is merely allowed to assist with abseiling a small group down a short drop"
"Guides will assist with the serving of tea or coffee and biscuits"
"a variety of methods have been evolved to assist with coping with them."

Everything points to the same conclusions:

'assist in' is by far the most common when followed by a gerund, but 'with' is also possible.
'assist in' is also more popular when followed by a standard noun, but the difference here is not so large.
All these sources suggest that 'in' is more common in a ratio of about 3.5 to 2

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