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Would anyone happen to know the name of the following grammatical construction that I've italicized below (the clause beginning with "with")? My searches have been unsuccessful.

This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, with our species establishing its rule over the Earth within a relatively short time in evolutionary terms.

In the sentence, the preposition "with" is introducing a clause. However, I haven't been able to find information on "with" being used in this manner.

Also, if anyone has time and is interested, would they be willing to paraphrase the sentence above? I would like to see how others interpret it.

Thanks for your time...

  • I believe 'with' is a 'function word' in that sentence. – user180089 Jul 7 '16 at 0:06
  • Ah, so it wouldn't be considered a preposition here? – THoltz Jul 7 '16 at 0:16
  • I think it's still acting as a preposition, but the exact nature of its meaning is unknown. Essentially the only thing its existence in that sentence is accomplishing is to link the ideas of the dependent clause to those of the preceding independent clause, but little can be said beyond that. Just what I think, maybe someone has some better insight. When I read the sentence, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is acting like a conjunction, but as far as I know 'with' cannot be a conjunction. – user180089 Jul 7 '16 at 0:21
  • Perhaps it is acting as the 14th definition here: at the same time as or immediately after; upon: "And with that last remark, she turned and left.", assuming that the evolution of humanity is happening concurrently with whatever else 'this process' is referring to. 'This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, at the same time our species [was] establishing its rule over the Earth within a relatively short time in evolutionary terms.' – user180089 Jul 7 '16 at 0:32
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    I'd guess that it might be considered a "subordinate conjunction" meaning "characterized by or having". "I love Bob's Pizza, with its cheese bubbling and its crisp crust that's famously baked in only three minutes." – Leo Jul 7 '16 at 1:20
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I think it is a preposition the object of which is the ing-form (gerund) "establishing". The following paraphrase may clarify this: "This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, with the establishment of our species' rule over the Earth within a relatively short time in evolutionary terms." "Our species" is not a subject of "establishing"; it is a possessive modifier which could be better written "our species'".

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  • No, our species is not possessive (genitive would be a better term). English genitives are either inflections of pronouns (his, hers, its, et al.) or have an apostrophe in the right place. It's also not a modifier, since it's not about some special type of establishing called species-establishing. Establishing just means the ordinary thing -- setting up. And the entity doing the setting up is our species, which makes it the subject of the gerund clause. – deadrat Jul 7 '16 at 5:07
  • "This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, with us/our establishing our rule over the Earth within a relatively short time in evolutionary terms." Which version seems good to you? Both? Neither? – DCDuring Jul 9 '16 at 15:26
  • To me the "our" version seems cleaner, not creating the implausible claim that "us" is a subject of establishing. – DCDuring Jul 9 '16 at 15:34
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Thanks all for your thoughtful answers and debate.

The issue (from my perspective) was whether or not the clause introduced by "with" was modifying/describing the previous clause (specifically, the what happened elsewhere in the world bit) or was providing the result of the entire previous clause:

Paraphrase giving the description - This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, which was that our species established its rule over the Earth...

Paraphrase giving the result - This process mirrors what happened elsewhere in the world, resulting in our species establishing its rule over the Earth...

Leo suggested this was a "subordinating conjunction" that provides a description ("characterized by having..."), which would be the first paraphrase above. This could very well be but I feel the "result" paraphrase could also be correct.

So far the only place I have found of "with" introducing a result has been in some English-to-Japanese translation tips material. I haven't been able to find discussion of such in the English literature on grammar, etc.

Anyway, thank you all again! Enjoy your days...

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