Enamored By or With: Which Is Correct?

English may not be the most Romantic language, but that doesn’t mean we lack the prowess to write about romance. Whether it’s love or a questionable romance between a young woman and an elderly vampire, talking about love isn’t easy. For instance, is it “enamored by” or “with”?

“Enamored by” is incorrect. The phrases “enamored with” and “enamored of” are synonymous, but “enamored of” is the most accurate choice, while “enamored with” is less common. “Enamored by” can be very confusing in the passive voice and might imply that the object of the sentence is in love with the subject.

You likely have some understanding of what the word “enamored” means but very little knowledge of how to use it. To understand more about the word “enamor” and how to use it correctly in both your writing and when speaking, keep reading.

“Enamor” and “Enamored”

As a word, “love” can become boring with overuse. You’ll hear the word in every poem, book, song, movie, and TV show, and, frankly, it gets repetitive and loses all meaning after so long. Sometimes, using a synonym for being in love breaks through the monotony.

Enamor is a transitive verb meaning to cause someone or something to be loved or admired (source). Transitive verbs are verbs where the action impacts the subject or the direct object, be it a person or thing (source).

This means “enamor” cannot stand on its own — a person or object must follow. For example, these sentences don’t make sense:

  • I enamor.
  • She enamors.

However, you can say:

  • I enamor everyone with my sense of humor.
  • She enamors multiple suitors with her confidence.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “enamor” as “to cause someone to like or love something” (source). Therefore, the verb “enamor” is synonymous with “captivate,” “infatuate,” or to cause a general feeling of enchantment towards another person (source). Suffice to say, the word is loaded.

“Enamor” can stand for the purest of true loves or the shallowest of infatuations. That’s what makes it so unique.

Love is something that you can speak about in many ways. So, while saying you are enamored is a good start, it’s always a good idea to understand and identify more ways to talk about the many variations of love. Whether it’s predilection, adulation, or parentification, it’s all something worth writing about.

Enamored

However, bear in mind the word “enamored” is slightly different as it can be either an adjective or the past participle of the verb “enamor.”

Enamored as a Past Participle

A past participle is the form of the verb we use when writing in the perfect and passive tense, which we typically form by adding -ed.

When you use “enamored” in this way, you are indicating an action. While the subject might perform the action, “enamored” is most often a passive verb, receiving the action from the direct object. Noah Webster listed it as a passive participle (source).

  • The fairy queen enamored the entire kingdom.
  • The ancient Egyptians were enamored of cats.
  • Her eyes enamored me.

In the second sentence, we used “enamored” in the passive voice with the helping verb “were,” and the object acts on the subject. This means the cats caused the ancient Egyptians to love them (source).

If we wrote this in the active voice, where the subject performs the action, it would be “The cats enamored the Egyptians.”

Enamored as an Adjective

The word “enamored” can also be an adjective, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two (source). Adjectives describe nouns, and the word “enamored” as an adjective often comes before the noun it describes.

The word “enamored” as an adjective refers to a state of mind or condition of being affected by love rather than the act of causing feelings of love. While “enamored” is often a passive verb following a helping verb, we could also view it as a predicate adjective following a linking verb

Think of the sentence, “She is enamored with him.” Here, the adjective “enamored” modifies the pronoun “she” through the linking verb “is.”  You are describing her state of being enamored with someone.

Here are a few more examples: 

  • Her enamored husband bought flowers for her.
  • I was enamored.
  • He may have liked her, but I was far more enamored.
  • Daisy was enamored of Gatsby’s mansion.

In the first example, note how the adjective immediately precedes the noun it describes. Also, note how the second example has no direct object. In the third example, “more enamored” is a comparative adjective. These are three clear examples of “enamored” functioning as an adjective. 

However, we could view the last example either way, though with no change in meaning.

Image by Jez Timms via Unsplash

Enamored With or By?

You will see prepositions like “of,” “by,” and “with” accompany the verb “enamored” in common usage (source). Using “enamored” as an adjective or verb with “by” or “with” is actually informal, and each has a slightly different meaning.

Let’s look at the following sentences:

  • I am enamored by you.
  • I am enamored with you.

Both sentences are reasonably straightforward, at first until you examine them closer. That is all thanks to the part of speech we know as the preposition.

The Preposition “By”

While “by”’ can be either a preposition or an adverb, we generally use it as a preposition. It’s one of the most important prepositions in English with a very broad usage, but we’ll focus on its use as it applies to this phrase.

We see the use of “by” in passive voice sentences where it follows a passive verb and indicates who caused something:

  • The Bakery had been opened by my great grandfather.
  • I had been hurt by her betrayal.

Similarly, we often use “by” to communicate how we did something or through what means:

  • We traveled by airplane.
  • I sent a message by email.

Remember that the verb “enamored” means to cause someone to be infatuated with someone or something. So if we use the example sentence “I am enamored by you,” who is causing the infatuation?

Professor Paul Brians of the Department of English at Washington State University notes how using “enamored by” opens the door for confusion as your reader might have trouble telling who is in love with whom (source).

  • I am enamored by you
  • Amanda is enamored by musicians.

Is this sentence stating that the musicians cause Amanda to love them, or is it saying that Amanda caused the musicians to be enamored of her — in love with her? According to Professor Brians, it would be the latter.

The Preposition “With”

When we see “enamored with,” the word “enamored” is more likely to be an adjective rather than a verb. While “with” is still not the best option for a preposition here, it does avoid some of the confusion that we might run into with the verb “enamored” when we follow it with “by.”

You can see that in the example “I am enamored with you,” the subject “I” is experiencing romantic feelings toward “you,” and the feeling may or may not be mutual. It makes more sense to view “enamored” as an adjective here, describing the subject’s emotional state.

The following illustrates how we typically use the preposition “with.”

You can use “with” to show closeness to someone or something or accompanying someone or something:

  • I stood with her during the protests.
  • I only drink my tea with milk.

“With” also comes after adjectives that refer to feelings/reactions:

  • I was happy with the mark I received for the last math exam.
  • The coach was angry with them because they were unruly and disrespectful.

“With” can also mean “because of”:

  • My hands are numb with cold.
  • Fluency comes with practice.

When we do see “enamored with,” it’s often in a humorous or negative sense, as in the following (source):

  • I wasn’t exactly enamored with the idea of staying.
  • I wasn’t enamored with their musical performance.

Should You Use “With” or “By”?

“Enamored with” would be the better of the two options if you wish to avoid the passive voice. In this case, we could view “enamored” as a verb or, more likely, as a predicate adjective describing the feelings of the subject.

  • I am enamored by you
  • I am enamored with you.

While “with” might be the better option, most style guides aren’t fond of this either. Still, Professor Brians states that “enamored with” is less common but usually acceptable.

One thing which may be helpful to you as you navigate these nuances is making sure you understand pronouns. For a quick refresher, read over the article “You and I or You and Me: Understanding the Correct Use of These Pronouns.

Enamored With or Of?

While you will see many dictionaries list “enamored with” and “enamored of” as common phrases, the most formal and widely accepted expression is “enamored of.” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary mentioned “enamored of” as the correct choice, but he also noted the increasing use of “enamored with.”

Some style guides like the Chicago Manual of Style (5.195) state that it is always “enamored of” and never “enamored with.”

  • I am enamored of you. (Optimal)
  • I am enamored with you. (Generally acceptable)

The Preposition “Of”

The preposition “of” indicates someone or something belonging to or relating to another person or thing. When we combine it with “enamored,” we can still view “enamored” as either an adjective or a verb.

For instance, we use “of” after a verb before mentioning the person or thing involved in the action, and we use “of” after an adjective before mentioning the person or thing that a feeling relates to.

Collins Dictionary offers a handy definition for “enamored of” that says simply, “if you are enamored of something, you like or admire it a lot. If you are not enamored of something, you dislike or disapprove of it” (source).

Therefore, unless enamored is not attached to a preposition as you can see in the sentence below, it’s best to follow it by the preposition “of”:

  • She was less than enamored after the horrible date.
  • Her personality enamored him.

So, whether you’re referring to a person, place, or thing, the subject of your sentence would be “enamored of” something or someone:

  • Sarah was enamored of the little bundle of joy nestled between her arms.
  • He was enamored of Times Square in New York City. 
  • Jason found himself enamored of all the displays at the convention.

Should You Use “With” or “Of”?

To be safe in formal and academic writing, avoid the preposition “with” after “enamored” even if it makes more sense to your ears.

To say it’s entirely wrong is incorrect, especially since numerous sources generally accept it as a less common alternative. Therefore, if you wish to use “with” instead of “of” outside of formal writing, no one can fault you. 

Enamored By or Of?

As we stated previously, the preposition “by” with “enamored” is incorrect, while “of” is the best choice. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

Examples:

  • My cat was enamored by the local neighborhood children. (Incorrect)
  • I was enamored by him, and I liked it. (Incorrect)
  • I was totally enamored of the flower bouquet. (Correct)
  • She was known for being absolutely enamored of horses. (Correct)

Final Thoughts

Always use “enamored of” for formal writing and reserve “enamored with” for other situations. “Of” is always your safest choice, but you can use “with” if you feel it sounds better in a more relaxed environment. 

With regards to meaning, “enamored of” and “enamored with” are essentially identical. However, it’s best to avoid “enamored by.”

Romance is quite an exciting topic once you get into the nitty-gritty of the English language. We should never fear using new words in our texts. A word like “enamored” is especially beneficial as it can stand in place of so many beautiful emotions.

Dr. Patrick Capriola

Dr. Patrick Capriola is the founder of strategiesforparents.com. He is an expert in parenting, social-emotional development, academic growth, dropout prevention, educator professional development, and navigating the school system. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Florida in 2014. His professional experience includes serving as a classroom teacher, a student behavior specialist, a school administrator, and an educational trainer - providing professional development to school administrators and teachers, helping them learn to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. He is focused on growing strategiesforparents.com into a leading source for high-quality research-based content to help parents work through the challenges of raising a family and progressing through the school system.

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