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Is It Correct to Say “I Resonate With”?

A speaker at a conference is giving a passionate speech. Your neighbor turns to you and says, “I resonate with what he is saying.” What does she mean? Where does this come from, and is it proper in this sentence? 

It is incorrect to say, “I resonate with,” to convey that you are in harmony with them or an idea they are sharing, even though people sometimes use this phrase. The correct form is “It resonates with me” because it is the object that resonates, not the subject.

Read more to discover what “I resonate with” means and how to use it correctly. 

What Does “I Resonate With” Mean?

Some people say “I resonate with” to communicate solidarity with a person or idea. But if we consider the definition of “resonate” and dig deeper into the etymology, we discover that “I resonate with” is an improper use of this metaphorical phrase. 

When you stand on top of a mountain and shout your name, you will likely hear an echo. The sound of your voice has resonance; it keeps going. When something continues to “produce a loud, clear, deep sound for a long time,” it resonates (source). 

Like your voice at the top of a mountain, a sound resonates. We hear those resonations. It is the sound that is resonating, not our ears. This is why the correct form is “it resonates with me” rather than saying, “I resonate with it.” 

If you strike the right chord on a guitar, it will play a sound pleasing to the ear. Eventually, “strike a chord” became an idiom that meant “to do something which causes the approval of others” (source). 

In the 1970s, the verb “resonate” began to take on a similar figurative meaning (source). Figuratively, one might use this word to convey that an idea, a concept, or a phrase continues to impact the hearer for a longer time. If something “strikes a chord,” it “resonates with” you.

How Do You Use “I Resonate With”?

The phrase “I resonate with” is not the proper usage of the metaphorical phrase “resonate with,” so you should not use it. Instead, you should say, “That resonates with me,” to convey that you are in harmony with a person or idea. 

If something triggers an emotion within you, you might want to say, “I resonate with” that concept. Because you are the one feeling the emotion, it is easy to assume that you would be the one doing the resonating. But this is not correct. It is the sound or concept that resonates. 

In the sentence, “The sun shines upon me,” the sun is the subject, and “upon me” is a prepositional phrase that functions as an adverb and tells you where the sun shines. If you flip the order to “I shine upon the sun,” then “the sun” becomes the object of the preposition. That makes it improper because the sun is the one shining. 

Likewise, it is not we who resonate. Sounds, feelings, concepts, and ideas resonate. To use this properly, we need to structure the sentence similarly. 

In the sentence, “I resonate with Bob’s idea,” Bob’s idea is the object of the preposition “with,” and together, they form a prepositional phrase that describes how I resonate. “I” would be the subject of the sentence producing resonance. That is not what we mean to convey. 

Instead, consider saying, “Bob’s idea resonates with me.” In that sentence, Bob’s idea is the subject, and “me” is the preposition’s object. That means Bob’s idea is the thing that is producing resonance. That is the correct way to construct the phrase. 

When Can You Use “I Resonate With”?

You cannot use “I resonate with” in everyday conversation or informal contexts because it is grammatically incorrect. This is a common mistake, though, so you may commonly hear this phrase.

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Though incorrect grammatically, “I resonate with” is a somewhat common grammatical error that native speakers make. You may have heard this phrase, and the person using the sentence is not aware of their grammatical error.

In these instances, the speaker attempts to convey that they are in harmony with a particular concept or idea. People might erroneously use this phrase when they want to give a sense of solid agreement. 

If you change the sentence’s word order so that the concept or idea is the one resonating and not the personal pronoun, then this phrase is one you can use in any setting. 

When Not to Use “I Resonate With”

Because it is grammatically incorrect, you should never use “I resonate with” in a sentence. You can, however, use “It resonates with me” in almost any setting. 

We should not use “I resonate with” in a sentence because it is not the proper usage of the word “resonates.” The personal pronoun (“I,” “you,” and “we”) does not resonate. 

If you use the proper “it resonates with me,” you can use it in almost any setting. The only exception will be if you do not intend to convey a strong emotional connection with the concept or idea. If you merely approve, “it resonates with me” may be a bit too strong. 

What Can You Use Instead of “I Resonate With”? 

If you need to communicate strong agreement with a concept or an idea, you can use the proper “This resonates with me.” You should not use “I resonate with,” but thankfully, there are many alternatives to the grammatically incorrect term. 

When we feel something strongly, we want to convey our deep agreement. We want to show that we are connected emotionally with the idea or concept being conveyed. We also desire to show our unity with other people. 

In popular usage, the word “resonate” has become almost synonymous with “agree.” “I agree with you” is a grammatically correct phrase. So we can assume that substituting the word “resonate” for “agree” will create a proper sentence. But “I resonate with” is not grammatically correct. 

If you want to convey strong agreement with a person, concept, or idea, consider these alternatives: 

  • I agree with Bob’s idea.
  • I strongly agree with Bob’s idea.
  • I feel Bob’s idea in my bones.
  • I am in complete harmony with Bob’s idea. 
  • Bob’s idea resonates with me. 
  • I relate to Bob’s idea. 
  • I can empathize with Bob’s idea. 
  • Bob’s idea speaks to me.

Using “I Resonate With” in a Full Sentence

Though technically incorrect, you might sometimes hear a native speaker use “I resonate with” in a sentence. 

This chart will show a few examples of how some might use this incorrect phrase with an example of correct grammar.

I resonate with that charity’s mission, so I donated to its cause.That charity’s mission resonates with me, so I donated to its cause. 
I never resonated with working in retail, so I decided to pursue a career in support services.Working in retail never resonated with me, so I decided to pursue a career in support services. 
I resonate with that new song. That new song resonates with me. 
I resonate with the powerful story the pastor told the congregation. The powerful story the pastor told the congregation resonates with me. 

Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs 

In English, verbs are either transitive or intransitive, depending on whether or not the verb requires an object to complete the thought. A transitive verb requires an object, and an intransitive verb does not require an object.

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A transitive verb requires a direct or indirect object to transfer its action to. This can be a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that either follows the verb or comes before the direct object. An intransitive verb does not require another object to transfer its action to (source).  

This chart shows commonly used transitive and intransitive verbs (source): 

Common Transitive VerbsCommon Intransitive Verbs

Some verbs can be transitive or intransitive. This chart will show the difference. Notice that in the transitive examples, the subject transfers the action to another object. And in the intransitive, no transfer is needed. 

I drive a nice car. When I was 16, I learned to drive
I will leave my bag with you. When will you leave
I will not eat a cold sandwich. Can we go eat
I sang these songs in a children’s choir. I sang

For an example of a phrase that is not correct because it is a transitive verb needing a direct object, consider reading Is It Correct to Say “Discuss About”?

Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is a verb and adverb and/or preposition combination that functions as a single semantic unit. Phrasal verbs are common in informal speech and frequently carry an idiomatic meaning.   

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a phrasal verb is “a verb combined with an adverb or a preposition, or sometimes both, to give a new meaning” (source). Phrasal verbs can also be confusing because, even though they function as a single semantic unit, they can separate the words from one another in a sentence. 

This is an example of a phrasal verb: 

  • Do not bring up the situation with my wife. 

You can also separate the same phrasal verb: 

  • Do not bring the situation up with my wife. 

These are a few examples of phrasal verbs: 

  • Break down
  • Run away
  • Wake up
  • Hang on
  • Get back
  • Eat out
  • Tear up
  • Pick up
  • Run out of
  • Dropped out

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The following chart shows examples of common phrasal verbs with their meaning and an example sentence: 

Phrasal VerbMeaningExample Sentence
Put onApply, wearI put on makeup. 
Put offpostponeThey had to put off the wedding. 
Turned downrejectThe editor turned my book proposal down
Talks downDismiss, patronizeThe wife told her husband that she feels disrespected when he talks down to her. 

Final Thoughts

“I resonate with” is a grammatically incorrect phrase you should not use. It improperly uses the verb “resonate” as it misidentifies the subject. Rather than saying, “I resonate with it,” you should say, “It resonates with me.