This is a quote from Gao Shiqi. I understand the basic meaning of it, but what is a good way to define the usage of 以？ It can mean many different things in Chinese and is sometimes confusing.
Thank you, Rachel.
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Here's what Paul Rouzer has to say on 以 in his New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese:
1.5 以: This is one of the most frequently used characters in literary Chinese, and it has a very wide application. It was originally a verb meaning “to take,” “to use.” Eventually, it started to be used in combination with other verbs (what English language scholars often call a coverb). It serves the same purpose as English prepositions like “with,” “by means of,” and “through.” It usually comes before the main verb, and it is followed by its own special object:
天以禍報爲不善者。Heaven repays with disaster the person who does evil.
In this example, 報 is the main verb, and 爲不善者 is its object. 以 is the coverb, and 禍 is the object of the coverb.
Identify the object of the coverb in each case:
聖人以德導小人。 The wise person leads the petty person with virtue.
自禁者以德導欲。 The person who restrains herself leads her desires with virtue.
1.6 Shifting the coverb position: However, if a writer wants to put special emphasis on the thing that gets used (as in text #3), he or she will place the coverb and its object after the main verb:
小人導心以耳目: The petty person leads his heart with his ears and eyes.
Another, more awkward way of expressing the same sense: “It is with his ears and eyes that the petty person leads his heart."
知己者報人以善: It is with good that the one who knows herself rewards others.
小人報天以怨: It is with resentment that the petty person rewards Heaven.
Based on point 1.5, a literal translation of 時間給勤奮者以榮譽，給懶漢以恥辱 might be:
時間 給 勤奮者 以 榮譽 ， 給 懶漢 以 恥辱 Time provides the diligent with honour, and provides the lazy with disgrace.
Additionally, according to point 1.6, when the coverb (here 以) is placed after the main verb (here 給), it puts more emphasis on the thing after the coverb (here 榮譽 ‘honour’ and 恥辱 ‘disgrace’). Therefore, an even more literal translation (though a very awkward one) could be:
It is with honour that time provides the diligent, and it is with disgrace that time provides the lazy.
That should explain the use of 以, which in this case basically means ‘with’. Of course, a natural-sounding translation cannot be as literal as the ones above.
Note: 以 can be translated as ‘with’ in this particular context. It doesn't mean that ‘with’ is always a correct translation if 以. In particular, 以 does not mean ‘together with’, and is therefore different from words such as 和，与，跟， 一起 and so on. As we can see in the above quote, 以 may in other context be expressed with ‘take’, ‘use’, ‘by means of’ and ‘through’.
Yes, 以 has many meanings http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/characters/461/
米好 '-' 's answer is a good one. "以" in : “时间给勤奋者以荣誉，给懒汉以耻辱.” do mean "with".
As in : "provides the diligent with honour"
But "with" also has many meanings http://www.dictionary.com/browse/with. We have to look at the context to decide which meaning of "with" we are talking about.
In this case, we can see 'Time' is the subject, and ' honor' is an object that time gives and 'diligent people' is an indirect object (recipient of honor).
"Time gives honor to diligent people" = "Time provides the diligent with honor. "
以(with) before the noun 'honor' is a preposition that indicates 'honor' is the direct object and 'diligent people' is indirect object
If we omit 以(with) in the sentence and write: "时间给勤奋者荣誉" (Time provides honor to the diligent) the meaning of the sentence would almost be the same. Using preposition 'with' before 'honor' is for emphasizing it.
*personaly, I prefer writing "时间给勤奋者荣誉" which is a simpler structure, and less chance of confusion after transliterated to English "Time provides honor to the diligent"
I would respectfully disagree with the 2 answers. If 以 cannot be replaced with another word for 'with', why assume 以 means with? Just because English uses 'provide with'? That is a rash assumption. Would you also change 给 for 提供 here?
Time, for the hardworking, leads to honour, for the lazybones, leads to disgrace.
Look here for various meanings of 以:
The second one down says:
The linguists or professors at HK Uni, presumably using their great knowledge of Chinese wrote this:
They equate 以 with 率领 or 带领, both of which mean lead. (They may also, of course, err.)
If I simplify this sentence I get: 齊侯以諸侯之師 Qihou lead (率领） the Zhuhou army.
In the year 4 in springtime, Qihou lead the Zhuhou army and invaded Cai.
What makes no sense?
时间给勤奋者以荣誉 Time leads the hardworking to honour.
This is, of course, figurative language, as 'time' cannot physically 'lead', as did 齊侯 when he invaded (侵) 蔡. We could change 'lead' for 'results in': Time results in （leads to) honour for the hardworking. The meaning is unchanged: Time passes, honour accrues.
Makes good sense to me.