(To) Beat To The Punch + ON/WITH

DW

Banned
Polish
I am fully aware of the fact that the phrase "(to) beat to the punch" often appears on its own, in most cases at the end of a sentence.

Let's work on an example made up by myself. No one would argue a sentence like, Believe me, I had planned to visit her way before -- just wanted to give her time, for thinking things through, for recharging her batteries, but yah, he did beat me to the punch., would be a neat example of purely correct use of the phrase. But, if I, no matter, started sentence in a bit different way offhand or just wanted to purposefully state it in a different manner, I'd - speaking for myself - come up against one lingustic problem, namely a troublesome choice between on and with.

Let's see and work on rephrased sentences,
  • Yah, he did beat me to the punch on visiting her but believe me, I'd planned to do this way before -- just wanted to give her time, for thinking things through, for recharging her batteries.
or
  • Yah, he did beat me to the punch with visiting her but believe me, I'd planned to do this way before -- just wanted to give her time, for thinking things through, for recharging her batteries.
.

I'd personally go for the version with on but what about you?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would prefer on. I see it as the same on as in "On Monday I went to the doctor." giving a sense of time/timing, i.e. he did it earlier and thus won. It could also be "on the topic/subject of" or "on [=upon/about/concerning] the matter of". (But this is choice by majority reason and language is not democratic.)

    It could also be with/by if the visit is seen as an action instrumental to the beating (as opposed to the timing of the action), or in if the sense is seen as "in the matter of" which gives an idea of discrete yet continuing action.
     

    DW

    Banned
    Polish
    Be my guest. My apologies for not including them in the list of possible options. :D
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    He beat me to the punch by punching me is the phrase's origination, if I'm not mistaken.

    It's always "by".
    Hmmm... That would probably be "He beat me to the punch by his sheer speed." I'm not going to argue if the literal meaning is taken, but when it comes to the extended meaning I don't think we can be prescriptive.

    1965 Listener 1 July 6/1 The tracking station at Plumeur Bodou is the place that so exultantly beat Britain to the punch in getting the first pictures from America via the satellite Telstar. (OED)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top