§ Do you “deal with” people or do you “work with” people?

The following is a quote from the work of an IEN who subscribed to CELBANPrep Writing. It is part of her assignment for the CELBAN Writing Tutoring.

Working in the Operating Room is my passion because this is the field that I was introduced to and gained my experienced in as a nurse. I would also like to deal with elderly people whom I consider as individuals with special needs. With great perseverance and dedication, I will follow my ambitions not just as a goal but as a fulfillment as well.

Question: do you “deal with” people or do you “work with” people?

Great M,

We are nearly done with this one. There is one collocation I want you to do some research on. See if you can discover the difference between “deal with” and “work with”. These are two collocations used in similar but different situations.



Dear Kim,

I got this from the Internet where work with is to manipulate or work on someone or something.

Example: Let me work with him  for a while

While deal with is to take the action that is necessary when you are involved with a particular type of person.

Example: He believes young offenders should be dealt with quickly and harshly.

In my own words, deal with is use when there is difficulty in managing or handling a person while work with is a positive way of saying that you are enjoying working with someone. Did I say it right?

Thanks! M.


Good explanation, M.

So in my experience:

  • police officers deal with other people.
  • social workers, nurses and doctors work with other people.

It can be the very same person.

“The social workers have been working with John since he was little, but now that he is older let the law deal with him,” said the police officer to John’s parents.

Working with implies compassion, dealing with implies enforcement. Which do you think an elderly person want you to use when addressing them and their situation?

Write a sentence where a nurse both works with and deals with a patient.



Dear Kim,

I though that working and dealing with are just the same, now I know how to use them depending on the situation. Here are my examples:

1. It is hard to deal with patients who are not complying with their drug regimen.

2. I have experience working with unwell babies. It is a very challenging role and breaks my heart to see them crying.


Dear M,

Excellent! This has been very educational. I am going to post this as an example on Dear Kim, so others can learn too.

It is important to understand the subtleties of different words. On the CRNE the difference between the right and wrong answer can be as simple as word choice: two words that seem to mean the same thing but are very different.


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