Conform With or Conform To – Which Is Correct? (+Examples)

Is there a difference between saying “Conform With” and “Conform To”? We want to know if those forms are synonyms and can be used interchangeably.

And, of course, if one is incorrect, we want to know which one to avoid or when not to use it.

Conform With or Conform To – Which Is Correct?

“Conform To” and “Conform With” are grammatically correct forms to indicate that an item was done according to a set of guidelines, and it conforms to the specifications those guidelines provided before the execution. “Conform With”, however, doesn’t work when talking about people having to “Conform To” rules and guidelines.

conform with or conform to

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Does this product conform to FDA standards?
  • Does this product conform with FDA standards?
  • Does the project you wrote conform to the briefing we received?
  • Does the project you wrote conform with the briefing we received?
  • The kids must conform with the teacher’s rules.
  • The kids must conform to the teacher’s rules.

In the three sets of examples, you see one sentence using “Conform To” and another using “Conform With”. The sentences are the same, and only the phrases interchange.

In the first and second sets, both “Conform To” and “Conform With” work just as well. You may find one or the other more idiomatic, or you may have a personal reference. That would be perfectly fine. However, both forms are correct and acceptable – and consequently, could be used.

In the third set of examples, we’re talking about how kids should “Conform To” rules. In that case, only “Conform To” will work, and “Conform With” would be incorrect.

Conform With

“Conform With” is an expression that indicates a certain thing was prepared or built following clear specifications. It means that the item “Conforms With” the instructions, rules, and regulations that were provided ahead of time.

This is how to use “Confirm With” in a sentence:

  1. We need to make sure the brochure conforms with the workplace guidelines.
  2. The final product didn’t conform with the instructions received.
  3. The machinery received should conform with what was ordered.
  4. It’s mandatory to conform the design with the company standards.
  5. She doesn’t like to conform with society’s expectations of a girl. (incorrect)

In each and every example, an item (a brochure, a product, etc.) “Conforms With” specifications that had been previously received. It means all those items were developed, or made, with correctness and should be considered acceptable.

Sentence 5, however, describes the feeling of a girl toward society’s expectations. Because the sentence refers to an individual, and not a thing, “Conform With” doesn’t apply. We should say, instead, “She doesn’t like to conform to society’s expectations”.

Conform To

“Conform To” is grammatically correct, and indicates that an item was done following a set of guidelines and specifications. It’s a way to say something was done following all instructions. This phrase, “Conform To” can be used in relation to things and people.

This is how to use “Conform To” in a sentence:

  1. He needs to learn how to conform to the rules.
  2. We’ve all been conforming to the guidelines.
  3. The product conforms to safety standards.
  4. You have to make sure your final prototype conforms to the specifications.
  5. All employees must conform to the company’s policies.
  6. It’s hard to conform to rules we don’t really believe in.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of those forms is used more often, “Conform With” or “Conform To”? We’ll find out by taking a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

conform with or conform to usage

Although both expressions are grammatically correct, “Conform To” seems to be used with much more frequency than “Conform With”.

We believe that’s the case because “Conform To” sounds more organic and idiomatic to most people – to the point some might think “Conform With” is incorrect (which we know isn’t true). Either way, which one of the forms is your personal favorite?

Final Thoughts

Both “Conform With” and “Conform To” are acceptable, because both are grammatically correct. The only difference is that “Conform With” doesn’t seem to work well in relation to people, only things. But other than this exception, “Conform With” and “Conform To” are synonyms and can interchange.