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agree to vs with (in legal English)

English translation: See comments below...

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14:59 Mar 16, 2007
English to English translations [PRO]
Science - Linguistics / prepositions
English term or phrase: agree to vs with (in legal English)
While translating contracts, I came across the following use of agree "if the Insurer does not agree WITH the decision..." As Google shows, there are plenty of such exmaples on the net. Traditionally, the preposition with is used, as you know, to agree with people, and to - to inanimate things. Does the rule not apply to legal English?
Thank you.
Ara Mkrtchyan
Armenia
Local time: 00:25
English translation:See comments below...
Explanation:
It doesn't matter if it's a person or an inanimate object or whatever, it's the sense that really defines it.

If the underlying meaning is 'to be in agreement with', then you need to use 'with'

If the underlying meaning is 'to give ones consent to something', then you need to use 'to'.

If you re-phrase your expression like this, it's easy to tell at a glance which preposition fits best.
Selected response from:

Tony M
France
Local time: 22:25
Grading comment
Thank you
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +7See comments below...
Tony M
4 +3further comments, not for grading.
Richard Benham
4 +3It's correct, but the usage depends on the contextkmtext
3 +3agree to vs with
David Cahill
2 -1Webster sees no significant difference
Jonathan MacKerron


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): -1
agree to vs with (in legal english)
Webster sees no significant difference


Explanation:
" to give assent : express approval : ACCEDE — usually used with 'to' or 'with' and sometimes with in (agree to a plan) (agree with an opinion) (I agree T in T what you say— Benjamin Jowett*)"

Jonathan MacKerron
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Richard Benham: Indeed, in his choice of examples, Noah does see exactly the same difference as the rest of us see: agree to a plan, agree with an opinion. Perhaps he could have spelt it out more clearly, but obviously Noah, as a native speaker, saw the difference.
5 hrs
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8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
agree to vs with (in legal english)
agree to vs with


Explanation:
to agree with is generally to "have the same opinion as" and to agree to is generally "to accept or assent to another opinion". Although you could argue a slight difference in meaning it is minimal. I would say you could use either in the case you propose

David Cahill
Local time: 22:25
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 8
Notes to answerer
Asker: And that's what I mean, David: an inanimate thing cannot have an opinion, as a rule.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  NancyLynn
5 mins
  -> thanks, nancy

agree  Kim Metzger: Nice distinction.
5 mins
  -> thanks, kim

agree  Deborah Workman: Yep, "agree with" is to have the same view as stated by a person/text/whatever and "agree to" is to accept/allow (an opinion, an action) and in Asker's example it seems that if the Insurer does not agree WITH, it then has the option not to agree TO.
9 hrs
  -> thanks, deborah
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7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
agree to vs with (in legal english)
It's correct, but the usage depends on the context


Explanation:
You can agree with a person or a decision, for example, but you agree to do something. You can also agree on a course of action or a plan.

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Note added at 16 mins (2007-03-16 15:15:39 GMT)
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I think you use with if it's before a noun or pronoun and to before a verb. Experts, correct me if I'm wrong.

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:25
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GaelicGaelic

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  NancyLynn
5 mins
  -> Mòran taing.

agree  Tony M: Yes, but you can also use 'to' before nouns in some contexts (where it fulfils its rôle as a true preposition; with a verb, it is really the 'to' of the infinitive...)
16 mins
  -> Mòran taing.

agree  ugrankar
42 mins
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
agree to vs with (in legal english)
See comments below...


Explanation:
It doesn't matter if it's a person or an inanimate object or whatever, it's the sense that really defines it.

If the underlying meaning is 'to be in agreement with', then you need to use 'with'

If the underlying meaning is 'to give ones consent to something', then you need to use 'to'.

If you re-phrase your expression like this, it's easy to tell at a glance which preposition fits best.

Tony M
France
Local time: 22:25
Meets criteria
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 156
Grading comment
Thank you

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  NancyLynn
6 mins
  -> Thanks, Nancy!

agree  kmtext
20 mins
  -> Thanks, kmt!

agree  Richard Benham: Yes. The difference is perhaps best seen in "I agree with/to the proposal." "I agree with"="I think it's a good idea." "I agree to"="I commit myself to going along with it."
40 mins
  -> Thanks, RB! Oh yes, that's a good illustration.

agree  Jack Doughty
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Jack!

agree  kipruss3: Richard is correct here. we use agree with the decision, all the time in law, as it is understood that it is the opinion of *someone* (often, a judge)
1 hr
  -> Thanks, kipruss! Yes, and following my rule-of-thumb, you'd use 'with' because you are 'in agreement with ' the decision

agree  Chris Rowson: Looking at David Moore´s comment, at the top, it occurs to me that when the asker awards the points for tis question I may or not agree *with* his decision. Whether I agree *to* it is not meaningful since I have no power in the matter.
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Chris!

agree  JaneTranslates: Yes. Very clear. Richard's illustration is great! Chris is right, too.
3 hrs
  -> Thanks, Jane! Yes, to all!
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
agree to vs with (in legal english)
further comments, not for grading.


Explanation:
I think that there have been some good answers already, but I would like to add some comments and explanations.

"Agree with" means to share an opinion. You can "agree with" either a person or an opinion (decision, suggestion, proposal, whatever).

"Agree to" means to commit oneself to a course of action, or at least to consent to having something done (depending on the context). Normally, you "agree to" a proposal or a suggested course of action.

Can you ever "agree to" a person? Well, in an elliptical context you might. Suppose you are in a position where you get to approve or veto the appointment of someone to a position. You reject the first couple of candidates, and then the other party suggests Fred, and you "agree to" Fred. But of course, you are really agreeing to the appointment of Fred, not Fred himself.

Hope that helps.

Richard Benham
France
Local time: 22:25
Meets criteria
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 64

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  JaneTranslates: I know you said "not for grading" but you have expressed so clearly what I would have liked to have written that I have to post an agree!
1 hr
  -> That;s OK. I meant I wasn't in the running for points.

agree  writeaway: great explanation!
1 hr
  -> Thanks.

agree  Tony M: Well said, RB!
1 hr
  -> Thanks, AM!
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