Minnesota Public Radio puts out a show called Grammar Grater: with Luke Taylor. It is done weekly.
Each show is a short piece about five minutes long that addresses a simple issue of grammar with radio skits the occasional short interview and a quick sermonette. The arguments aren't always prescriptive. I don't always disagree with them. At times the show even suggests that complainers should just get used to the fact that language is always changing and it's not a bad thing.
Good for them.
But they do stumble. Sometimes egregiously. Sometimes more reasonably. My quibble for the day: the treatment of the Minnesota dialect sentence final '[verb] with' form.
Buffy uses this all the time.
'I think I wanna go with.'
'Are you going to come with?'
'No I just rode with.' (as a response to a question like 'Did you go in the store with them?')
Episode 20: Unfinished Business (listen here]) begins with an analogy using the legend of Constanza Mozart waking up her husband by playing an unfinished C major scale.
"Wolfgang couldn't stand it. His ear was begging for some kind of fulfillment, so he'd leap out of bed, rush to the piano and bang out the final note, much to his relief."
From this little tale the topic switches to language forms that do the same. This is where the '[verb] with' form comes in.
Some sentences have the Constanza Mozart...effect, though—if you can resolve it with a direct object, it's probably best to do so:
'Are you coming with?' sounds better when it's 'Are you coming with us?'
'Mr. Posthumous was planning to take over' is more specific when it becomes 'Mr. Posthumous was planning to take over the balloon factory!'
Let's take a quick look at some of the gaps. First of all the phrase "to take over" is not simply "to take over [X]" with a null object. Take over can be either intransitive or transitive but it's not merely because of the null or expressed object. Each sentence uses the phrase differently. Let's do a quick substitution test to see if take over = take over
Using assume control for take over we have
He is planning to assume control.
*He is planning to assume control the factory.
Using lead for take over we have
He is planning to lead.
He is planning to lead the factory.
What's going on here? The word/phrase forms take over and lead are ambiguously transitive/intransitive. But the form assume control does not show that same ambiguity. So it's not fair to say that the underlying forms of leadT and leadI is the same in each sentence simply with a null complement in one and an expressed complement in the other. Is the intransitive use less specific? Maybe. Not really tho. But specificity isn't really a grammatical issue.
Let's look at the other pair of sentences. Is "coming with" simply ellipsis from "coming with us"? Is it basically "Are you coming with ___?"
This is a common analysis of this sentence type. It's used in an almost identical sense. Come with us is almost always an appropriate substitution for come with. But my favorite recent analysis comes from John Spartz here at Purdue who has been investigating the non-complement form as a particle that attaches to verbs of movement.
Just today John was telling me that some analyses suggest a null complement that is always first person. But when I asked Buffy to use a with-final phrase, she came up with the above "rode with" sentence that would have to take a 3rd person complement.
One way to think of the "with" in these sentences is as along. This might not be the perfect substitution. I wonder if John has found any "with with" sentences. John?
With all this in mind: The suggestion that one sentence "sounds better when it's [X]" and another sentence "is more specific when it becomes [Y]" puts too much faith in the premise that the alternate forms are underlyingly identical. But I say they're not. So it's like saying 'Meatloaf tastes better when it's lasagna' or 'Wine is sweeter when it becomes Cola.' Even if the premise is true the judgment might not be.
Now the episode does end with a decent bit of advice: don't let the prescription against ending a sentence with a preposition force you into awkward or "clunky" constructions.
In the name of effective language Taylor actually says "it's okay to have sentences ending in prepositions."
It's a start.