accompany vs spend time with

Swarovski

Member
Chinese - Mandarine
We were dicussing the characteristics of perfect parents in class, and one idea that popped up was, "Parents should accompany their children." The speaker meant that "parents should spend time with their children." I personally think that the word "accompany" is improper in the context, but I am unalbe to explain why.

Could someone help me understand if there is a difference between "accompany" and "spend time with"? Are both terms appropriate in the above context? Many thanks.
 
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  • Swarovski

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarine
    No, the speaker was not a native speaker of English. And from the subsequent details, I'm sure he meant to spend time with children.
     

    Swarovski

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarine
    "It can be used with people you know well in unusual circumstances."
    How about situations like the following?

    (1) I accompanied my mom to the hospital for an annual checkup.
    (2) Tom accompanied his child to complete his term paper throughout the night.

    Is it appropriate to use "accompany" in the above contexts?
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Tom accompanied his child to complete his term paper throughout the night.

    The meaning is not very clear here. What exactly did Tom do? Did he "keep his child company"? (Sit up with him so that he wouldn't feel all alone)
     

    Swarovski

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarine
    If Tom sat up with his child so that he would not feel all alone, it seems to me that "keep his child company", as you suggested, is more appropriate that "accompanied". Is that right?

    If Tom guided the child and helped solve some difficult problems in completing the term paper, would the verb "accompanied" be appropriate then?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If Tom sat up with his child so that he would not feel all alone, it seems to me that "keep his child company", as you suggested, is more appropriate that "accompanied". Is that right? :tick:

    If Tom guided the child and helped solve some difficult problems in completing the term paper, would the verb "accompanied" be appropriate then? No, you would need to say "Tom helped the child", or something to that effect.
     

    Swarovski

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarine
    I think I'm gaining a better picture of how to use the word appropriately.

    How about "Tom accompanied his child to the passport agency to apply for a new passport"?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Tom accompanied his child to the passport agency to apply for a new passport"? :tick:

    That's a good use of "accompany", though in everyday speech I would say "Tom went with his child" or "Tom took his child" if the child wasn't old enough to go there by himself.
     

    Swarovski

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarine
    Thank you very much for all your help. Now I understand that "accompany" indicates "going somewhere with someone who is not a close acquaintance. When that someone is a close acquaintance, the act of "going somewhere" is an unusual circumstances. For example:

    (1) I accompanied my mom to the hospital for an annual checkup.
    (2) Tom accompanied his child to the passport agency to apply for a new passport.

    Please correct me if I still have a misconception.
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    "It can be used with people you know well in unusual circumstances."
    How about situations like the following?

    (1) I accompanied my mom to the hospital for an annual checkup.
    (2) Tom accompanied his child to complete his term paper throughout the night.

    Is it appropriate to use "accompany" in the above contexts?
    I'm not a native speaker but I think (2) is wrong because "accompany" means "go with". In your sentence, Tom and his child weren't going anywhere. They were probably sitting at the table working on the term paper.

    Am I right? :)
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    In addition to "keep someone company" and "spend time with someone", are there any other equivalent expressions? Perhaps "be someone's company"?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Tom accompanied his child to complete his term paper throughout the night.

    Yes, Edison. It suggests that Tom went somewhere with the child.

    Can you use "be someone's company" in a sentence, to show us what you mean? Thanks.
     
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