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‘Relate To’ vs ‘Relate With’: What’s the Difference?

Shaun Connell
December 12, 2023

If you need to know the difference between 'relate to' vs. 'relate with,' you came to the right place!

Here is the short answer: 

  • 'Relate to' is a recognized phrasal verb that means to connect, sympathize, or interact with someone or something. 
  • 'Relate with' is not recognized by most English dictionaries, but you can use it grammatically when relate refers to communication or coming into contact with something or someone. 

These terms can be confusing even to experienced writers. So, keep reading to learn exactly when and how to use each phrase correctly.

What is the Difference Between 'Relate To' vs. 'Relate With?'

'Relate to' and 'relate with' are both prepositional phrases, but 'relate to' is also recognized as a phrasal verb in some dictionaries, while 'relate with' is not.

The reason is that in most cases, 'relate to' is the correct phrase. However, there are occasions when you can use 'relate with,' too. For example, when you are speaking about communication or something someone says, you can use 'relate to' or 'relate with.'

The phrase 'relate to' uses the to preposition, which is a function word used to show:

  • Distance
  • Connection
  • Limit
  • Position
  • Result
  • Relation to time
  • Degree
  • Inclusion or exclusion
  • Exclusiveness
  • Direction
  • Application

When and How to Use 'Relate To' vs. 'Relate With'

  • Use 'relate to'  or 'relate with' to say that something someone says resonates with you.

For example, you could say:

I relate with what you were saying about people being rude in this city. 

  • Use 'relate with' or 'relate to' to show an association with time.

So, you might say:

She relates the experience to the five years she spent in the military. 


If you relate with them for a short period you should be okay. 

  • Use 'relate to' to refer to the way you interact with someone.

As an example, I might say:

When I was in high school, I related to my sisters differently. 

  • Use 'relate to' to show a connection.

For example, I might say:

We related our food poisoning to an improperly prepared meal we ate.

  • Use 'relate to' to show how a person does or does not connect with others.

As an example, you might say:

She has not related to her family in a long time. 

Definition of 'Relate To': What Does 'Relate To' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'relate to' as a phrasal verb that means:

  • To connect something with something or someone else
  • To understand, accept, or have sympathy for something
  • Used to describe someone's behavior toward someone or something
  • To have a connection or be about something or someone
  • To be related to someone or something

Definition of 'Relate With': What Does 'Relate With' Mean?

As I mentioned, there is no definition of 'related with.' So, let's look at the definition of 'with' so you see why, in most cases, this is not the correct preposition to use.

Definition of 'With'

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'with' as:

  • Against or in opposition to something
  • Separation or detachment from something or someone
  • Completed, over, or on
  • During the operation, performance, or use of something
  • As well as
  • Inclusive of something or someone
  • By a direct act
  • Having or owning
  • In spite of proportion to
  • In the same direction

It can also be used as a function word to indicate:

  • Close associations in time
  • The relationship to the result of a specific action
  • A factor or circumstance

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Relate To' vs. 'Relate With'

You may feel like learning proper pronunciation is less important for writers than public speakers, but learning proper pronunciation can improve your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. It can also help you remember the correct spelling and meaning of words.

So, here is a brief guide you can reference for pronouncing 'relate to' vs. 'relate with':

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'relate to':

ri-lāt tü

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'relate with':

ri-lāt with or ri-lāt wuth

Sample Sentences Using 'Relate To' vs. 'Relate With'

Now, read through these sample sentences. They will help you remember the meanings and when to use 'relate to' vs. 'relate with.'

Relate To

  • I relate to that greeting card.
  • I relate to that on a deeper level because of the experiences I've had on my journeys to places with different cultures and customs.
  • If you relate to them, you should tell them.
  • Do you relate your life experiences to your work as a freelance writer?
  • I cannot relate to the ninety years my grandmother has spent on earth.
  • Relating to a book you've never read.
  • I do not relate to what he says. Why would I vote for him?

Relate With

  • How closely do you relate with the people when they visit?
  • Are you relating with those people regularly?
  • How often do you relate with them?
  • I don't know if I want to be around you if you relate with them regularly.
  • When will you relate with the group again?
  • Isn't it impossible to relate with those people you never see?

In each of the examples above, it would also be grammatically correct to replace with, with to, for example:

  • How closely do you relate to the people when they visit?
  • Are you relating to those people regularly?
  • How often do you relate to them?
  • I don't know if I want to be around you if you relate to them regularly.
  • When will you relate to the group again?
  • Isn't it impossible to relate to those people you never see?

Final Look: 'Relate To' vs. 'Relate With'

Let's take one last look at the difference between 'relate to' vs. 'relate with?'

  • 'Relate to'' is a recognized phrasal verb that shows a connection, understanding, sympathy towards, or relationship between two things or people. 
  • 'Relate with' is not a recognized phrase in the dictionary, but you can use it grammatically in some cases.

Take a look at the other guides here to learn about the differences between other phrases like these. You can also learn about writing opportunities, interesting writing jobs, and niches with the highest-paid writers in the other guides here. So, check them out before you go.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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