Preposition: Julie wrote the letter <by/in/with> ink.

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keeley_h

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hi everybody,

How can I know which to use by, in, or with?

For example, are the following sentences correct?
If they are, what's the difference?
If they aren't, why?

Julie wrote the letter by ink.
Julie wrote the letter in ink.
Julie wrote the letter with ink.
<<...>>
All the sentences seem OK to me but I can't tell the difference.
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    In ink (and maybe with ink). In or with bronze. I wouldn't use by in either case -- I don't believe it's correct.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I've repeatedly tried to answer this, then stopped, as it becomes more complicated when I think about it. Basically 'with' is for a tool or instrument ('she made the statue with a chisel') and 'in' for a substance or medium ('she made the statue in bronze'). With writing, however, we get some strange behaviour. First:

    She wrote the letter with a Rapidograph pen.
    She wrote the letter with a 2B pencil.
    She wrote the letter in blue ink.

    All very regular so far. But we say:

    She wrote the letter in pencil/pen/biro.

    The instrument ('biro', 'pencil' etc.) is also treated as a kind of substance - biros produce one kind of ink/mark, pencils another.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The instrument ('biro', 'pencil' etc.) is also treated as a kind of substance - biros produce one kind of ink/mark, pencils another.
    :thumbsup: It depends on whether you're talking about the writing instrument or the writing medium:

    She wrote the letter with her best pink biro [instrument: pink biro pen]
    She wrote the letter in pink biro [medium: pink biro ink]
     
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