Corresponding… to or with?

There are more than a few English speakers get confused by this one.

Stick to correspond with for communication and correspond to for things matching up.

  • In the sense of pairs of things matching up or being equivalent, it’s correspond to:
    Each new row of the periodic table corresponds to another shell of electrons.
    A year worked corresponds to 2.5% pension entitlement.
    The FBI in America corresponds to MI5 in Britain (equivalence)
  • In the rather rarer sense of things being aligned and consistent, it’s correspond with or no conjunction at all:
    The answers we got corresponded nicely.
    The suspects’ stories didn’t correspond with each other at all.
  • If it’s communicating by letter or e-mail or whatever, that’s always correspond with:
    I corresponded with Helena for a number of years.
    The FBI in America corresponds with MI5 in Britain (communication)

I’ve had a day or two just lately at the end of the month when real-world deadlines caught up with me. Back to normal posting frequency now, I hope.

Prevalence: moderate. Not a hugely common word, though it does turn up in the matching sense quite a bit in technical or statistical stuff.
Frequency: high. Because the usual Dutch equivalent (overeenkomen met) uses the word for with, Dutch people instinctively prefer that form and rarely use to.
Native: yes. Plenty of people are unsure about this one.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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