2

Example with a context (YouTube video):

Each year, Google gives its Google Ventures investment manager Bill Maris approximately $300 million to do with what he deems best, and oftentimes he opts to extend the funding to companies that help humans extend their lives.

I have a real hard time coming to grips with this expression. It's not that I don't understand what it means, but it's rather that I don't know how this expression works as far as its usage. Also I find this expression very confusing structurally.

I've seen similar phrasing in the move "The Wolf of Wall Street". Here's the quote for you:

The real question is this. Was all this legal? Absolutely not. But we were making more money than we knew what to do with. And what do you do when you're making more money than you know what to do with?

I'd be grateful if you could break this down for me and explain how to really use this expression.

1

Your confusion may arise from the fact that while there is an idiomatic phrase to do with (meaning concerned with or related to), these (both of your examples) do not use that idiom, but rather the three words that happen to be in the same order.

In both of your examples, we have one of the more common usages of do, "To perform, execute, achieve, carry out, effect, bring to pass." (OED, sense 4) It is used in its infinitive form with with as an adjective modifiying $300 million (or money, in the second example), which is the direct object of gives (Bill Maris is the indirect object).

We can reword the sentence a couple of ways that break up the phrase, but keep the meaning. First, simplify the sentence for clarity:

Google gives Maris money to do with what he deems best.

These would be equivalent to it:

Google gives Maris money with which to do what he deems best.

Google gives Maris money. Their intent is that he do with it what he deems best.

Google gives Maris money. Their intent is that he do what he deems best with it.

Google gives Maris money. Their intent is that he use it as he deems best.

For comparison, you could construct a similar sentence that does use the phrase idiomatically (in the related to sense):

Google gives Maris money to do with his performance in the previous year.

Google gives Maris money to do with the need for new equipment.

Google gives Maris money that, unofficially, is to do with certain photographs he possesses of board members.

As you can see, this is a totally different meaning of to do with than in the original sentence. Notice that the objects of to do with in these sentences are not actions or implied actions but things or ideas (related to money), as opposed to what he deems best, which is an implied action (that Maris will do).

On the other hand, we could construct similar sentences that use infinitives other than to do to modify money.

Google gives Maris money to give to the poor.

Google gives Maris money to wallpaper his office with.

Google gives Maris money to throw out the window.

Google gives Maris money to fold into little swans.

I hope I've correctly understood the issue; I'm making assumptions based on the fact that you used the "idiom" tag here.

2

It's a slightly convoluted structure - but simplifying the nouns, you might find easier to parse ..

They gave him money [in order] to do with [that [money]] what[ever] he deems best.

...where what he deems best is just a starchy/formal way of saying whatever he thinks [is the] best [thing to do [with the money]].

The main reason the syntax is complex is simply that the relationships between the different elements within the sentence are complex.

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.