comfortable doing vs. comfortable with doing

infant

New Member
Russian
How can the difference between "comfortable with doing sth" and "comfortable doing sth" be best explained?
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Infant. Here's how I would try to explain the difference:

    He is comfortable with doing something. Here "doing something" uses "doing" as a gerund that is part of a nominal phrase. The whole phrase is the object of the preposition "with": I am comfortable with going to the store this afternoon.

    He is comfortable working late at night. Here "working" is a present participle that serves as an adjective. The whole phrase "working late at night" is an adjective phrase that modifies the subject "he". You could turn the whole sentence around and the phrase would still be an adjective: Working late at night, he is comfortable.

    In your example "He is comfortable doing something", "doing something" works as a postpositive adjective that modifies "he" yet serves to elaborate or explain the adjective "comfortable". It answers the question "How is he comfortable?", which is a fairly unusual question.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see other members come up with different suggestions for how to explain the difference. :)

    Another possible interpretation would be to view the omission of "with" as an ellipsis. I think I favor the earlier explanation for your example.
     
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    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    [...]

    He is comfortable with doing something. Here "doing something" uses "doing" as a gerund that is part of a nominal phrase. The whole phrase is the object of the preposition "with": I am comfortable with going to the store this afternoon.

    [...]
    As I understand, the connotation of I am comfortable with going to the store this afternoon is that I am given the task of going to the store this afternoon and I feel comfortable with this task. Am I right ?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, sunyaer.
    As I understand, the connotation of I am comfortable with going to the store this afternoon is that I am given the task of going to the store this afternoon and I feel comfortable with this task. Am I right ?
    You are right.
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    I agree with Owl's grammatical analysis, I think, but his last point, I would underscore.
    "I am comfortable with x-ing" can be, and is, often compressed "I'm comfortable x-ing."
    Hence, in practice there may NOT* be any real difference.

    IF there is a difference, another point might be that "with" leaves the agency unspecified.

    "I'm comfortable with executing this murderer" may suggest others will do it, or at least leaves that open.

    "I'm comfortable executing this murderer" more suggests that I will do the execution and am OK with doing so.-
    ----

    *Omitted originally. Sorry.
     
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