1

Here's a sentence written on my textbook. And I'd like to reorganize this sentence to make sure I understand more deeply.

  1. At work it's common for colleagues to go to a restaurant for lunch, with some eateries going to great lengths to atrract customers by handing out flyers in the streets and having special offers at lunch time only.

I know the sentence that include 'with' backs up the first sentence. However, I'm not familiar with using 'with', both when listening and when speaking. So, I put it like the following.

  1. At work it's common for colleagues to go to a restaurant for lunch. Some eateries actually go to great lengths to attract customers by handing out flyers in the streets and having special offers at lunch time only.
  1. What do you think is more common or easy to speak and listen?
  2. Exactly what's role of 'with' ?
  3. Am I right to reorganize this way?
4

I applaud your instincts.

With clauses like this are rare in speech; they are organizing devices employed primarily in the written language. The role of with is not very specifically defined: all it signals is that the clause it introduces is syntactically subordinate to its 'head' clause.

In my opinion it is employed most happily to signal an expansion of the immediately previous content. For instance:

At work we usually go out to lunch together, with each of the group selecting the day's restaurant in rotation. —The with clause describes the mechanics of the daily sortie named in the first clause.

Eateries compete strenuously for customers, with some handing out flyers in the streets and others offering lunchtime specials.

But your example 1 is to my mind an illegitimate use. Bare at work usually means "in the company where I work"; if a more general application is intended it means "in all or most companies". In either case, the second clause shifts the focus from what happens at work to what happens in the commercial environment beyond the office. Consequently, with does not clarify the relationship between the two propositions, it merely tacks on a new topic.

So I think your rewrite, 2., superior to the original. But there are many more devices for linking these two sentences; which you use depends really on the underlying relationship between them.

In downtown [CITY], where office workers usually go out to lunch, eateries compete strenuously for lunchtime customers by handing out flyers in the streets and having special offers at lunch time only. —Here I subordinate the first clause because it explains the superordinate second clause.

At my office we go out to lunch, and eateries compete strenuously for our business by handing out flyers in the streets and having special offers at lunch time only. —Here I coordinate the two clauses because you and your colleagues are equally involved in both.

  • I agree with your answer, and even before you wrote this answer I was considering this question for a long time. I searched quite a few dictionaries, and some usage book, but no help as to this sort of usage :-( suddenly while browsing Century dictionary I stumbled upon a definition: like, analogous to, hence example - As if with Circe she would change my shape. Not similar example, but if we take the meaning of with as hence, OP's sentence will make perfect sense. What am I asking is can I take this meaning? – Man_From_India Feb 16 '15 at 13:36
  • @Man_From_India I’m afraid you’ve misparsed the entry: “Like; analogously to; hence, specifically, at the same time or rate as”. Hence is not a meaning of with but an indication that the following meaning is derived from the previous meaning. – StoneyB Feb 16 '15 at 18:10
  • Even if it's derived from the previous meaning, with does mean “Like; analogously to; hence, specifically, at the same time or rate as”. Isn't it? I can't see the difference :-( In OP's sentence with is a preposition. And it can also mean at the same time. But both hence and at the same time sounds very strange to me :-( – Man_From_India Feb 17 '15 at 2:50
  • @Man_From_India Allow me to paraphrase the dictionary; I have boldfaced the meanings it gives: With means like or analogously to or specifically (as an extension of meaning derived from analogously to) at the same time or rate as. – StoneyB Feb 17 '15 at 3:06
  • Oh I am sorry, the way the font is arranged there, I took it all wrong :-( But at the same time can be meaning here. The problem here is such usages of with as occurs in OP's sentence are not listed in any dictionary or usage book :-( – Man_From_India Feb 17 '15 at 3:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.