Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I'm going to talk about 3 ways to use the word "of."
This will not cover all uses of the word "of" but we're focusing on three very common and very useful ways to use this word. Let's get started. Okay.
The first use of "of" I want to talk about is "used to show connection or relationship between part or parts and whole."
So this means when we want to show that two things, two or more things have some kind of relationship, they fit together, or they have some kind of connection, or we want to talk about things within a larger group, so like, for example, pieces of things that are inside a whole of something, we use this meaning of "of."
Let's take a look at some examples.
First example:
"I ate a piece of cake."
Here, we're showing parts inside a whole. In this case, we're looking at one part. Here, my part is "a piece" and the whole in this case is "a cake." So when I want to talk about one part, in this case, "a piece," I connect the part to the whole with the word "of."
"I ate a piece of cake."
I could make this a plural word, if I wanted to.
"I ate pieces of cake."
So I'm still showing a relationship between parts and whole, with these words. So you'll see "of" used in this way very commonly with these counter words and uncountable nouns.
Let's take a look at the next example sentence.
"He broke part of my table."
So again, we see "of" is connecting in this case, quite literally a part to a whole. In this case, "my table." "My table" represents the whole we're talking about here. So he broke part of my table could mean like, for example, one leg of the table or a corner of the table. One piece, one portion of the table. So, "he broke part of my table" shows that only one piece was affected. We show "part" and the relationship to the whole by connecting them with "of." "He broke part my table" is not correct. "Part of my table" is correct.
Okay, let's move to the next sentence.
"One of the kids cried."
Here, we have "the kids" referring to a specific group of kids. The part here is "one." This means one child, one kid in the group of kids cried. So, you'll often see this kind of pattern used when we're talking about people, groups of people like students or workers and so on. So, one of the kids cried. We could change this to the plural form as well, "Two of the kids cried." It shows parts or a small number inside a larger group. So, in this example sentence, we don't know the total number here, but because the kids, in the plural form is used, we know that it refers to a specific group of kids and we want to talk about one of those kids. We show the relationship between this one kid and the group of kids with "of."
"One of the kids cried."
So, this is the first way to use "of" for this lesson.
I want to talk about one more important and related use of "of" which is "to show a portion inside something." "To show a portion inside something" means to talk about more than one of something inside a group, for example.
So in these cases, I focus on just one part inside a larger group, but if you want to talk about larger numbers, for example, the majority or the minority, inside a group, we can use "of" to show that relationship.
Let's look at some examples.
"Most of the students passed the test."
So here, I'm talking again about people. We see a very similar sentence here, "the kids" was in my previous example sentence. Here, "the students" so I'm talking about a specific group of students. I'm showing though, "most of the students passed the test," so not just one or two or three students passed the test, but most of the students passed the test. So I connect this most with the larger whole, so this could be the students in the class or the students in the school, whatever. I connect this part, even though it's a majority, even though it's most, I connect this with "of."
"Most of the students passed the test."
You might also hear the pattern "Most students passed the test." That is also okay. If you're including this "the" though, you need to include "of" because this "the students" is referring to a specific group, so "the" are definite article. It's showing us that we're talking about a specific group of students. So this could be most of the students in this class or in my class. Something specific is happening there, so we use "the." We connect it with "of." If you don't use a specific definite article, for example, "most students passed the test," that's okay, but the statement becomes less specific. You're just talking about maybe students across the country, for example. We don't know. It's not so clear there. So if you're using the definite article, make sure to use "of" to connect it.
Okay, let's look at another example.
"The majority of people at the event were rich."
Okay. So here, I'm using "majority - the majority." So "majority" is another way to say "most," the largest number of people, in other words. So, "majority," for example, could mean like 80% of people, basically more than 50% is a majority. So, "The majority of people at the event were rich." So, this is an example sentence where I could choose to use the definite article or not, "The majority of the people at the event were rich." That would also be okay because I'm making it very clear in the sentence which people I mean, so "people at the event," this specific group of people. So I could say, "The majority of the people at the event were rich." That's also okay. I've chosen not to include it here because this extra information tells me which people. So, "The majority of people at the event were rich." Here, my part is this percentage of people, so 50% or more, of this group, "people at the event were rich." I showed the connection by using "of," so this is my part, my portion, and this is my total group, my whole here. Okay.
One more example of this.
"None of us had any idea what to do."
So here, we're showing zero, "none of us." So "us," because we're using "us," it refers to a group, that means nobody inside our group, no people, zero people, inside our group had any idea what to do. So, we connect this with "none of us." So, we wouldn't really say "zero of us." It wouldn't sound so natural. We would say, "none of us." You could also say "nobody had any idea what to do," but we're using "of" here because we're showing a portion, in this case, none, and we're showing a whole. So when you want to show this relationship between something inside the whole and the larger group, the larger whole, you connect the two with "of." Okay.
Let's continue on to the second point for this lesson.
The second point for this lesson is "using of to talk about the materials or parts something is made with or to talk about an object's contents."
So "content" means the things inside something else. This is a bit different from what we've talked about over here.
Let's look at a few example sentences.
First, let's focus on these two.
"A cup (made) of silver."
This use of "of" here is showing us the materials that the cup is made of. So, "a cup made of silver." "Silver" is the material, "cup" is the object. You'll notice too, (made) is in parentheses. Sometimes, native speakers will drop this part when we're talking about the materials or the parts something is made with. "A cup of silver." This can sound a little bit more formal, but sometimes, we do choose to use "made of silver." I like to include it for this lesson, just to make it a little bit more clear, which kind of "of" we're talking about. So, "a cup of silver" is also okay to use. To me, it sounds a little bit more polite. So, this "of" is showing us a material, silver, for a cup.
Let's go on to the next sentence, also a material sentence.
"Her earrings were (made) of gold."
So again, you see, our material comes after our connecting word "of" and the object it's connecting to is "earrings."
"Her earrings were (made) of gold."
So these two sentences show us how we use "of" to indicate a material or a part that something can be made with.
I want to look at the next two sentences though. These two sentences refer to using "of" for object's contents
First example sentence:
"I'd like a glass of wine, please."
So, you'll notice, as we talk about in this part, we have a counter word and an uncountable noun. So "wine" is an uncountable noun. "Glass" is a way to count portions of wine, a way to count servings of wine. Here however, it's referring to the contents of the glass. So, I'd like a glass of wine please means one
glass full of wine. So inside the glass is just wine, a glass of wine. We could say, "a pint of beer" or a "cup of juice," for example. Those are all counter words plus an uncountable noun, connected with "of" patterns. So here, this part is referring to the counter word. This is the uncountable noun that's completely inside it. We connect the two with "of."
One more example of this:
"The box was full of old letters."
This one does not use an uncountable noun. Here, we're talking about a box. In this case, this box, the contents of this box was or were, rather, the contents were old letters, old letters. So, we're using "of" here because this is a good hint word "full," full means like 100% of the inside of the box was old letters. So we're showing the contents there with "of." We're connecting the item, the object to its contents with the word "of." We could change this. We could add other things too. "The box was full of old letters and pens and pencils" or "The box was full of old pictures." We could change that. We could add other things to this sentence if we want, but we're showing here, the contents of the box, full of something.
So, you may see that "empty" is used in the pattern like this, but the box was, for example, empty of money, empty of money. So this may seem a little bit strange. Why would you say that? But it means there was no money inside the box. "Empty" means there's nothing inside.
So, the box was "full of" means it's 100% of things inside something. Empty means nothing, zero percent. So "the box was empty of money" is correct. We sometimes use that. It sounds a little bit more formal, a little bit more polite, but when you want to talk about the contents of something, in this case a box or perhaps a bag, a purse, you can use "of" to connect the contents with the object itself.
Okay, so with this in mind, let's continue to our last use of "of" for this lesson, number 3.
We use "of" to show belonging.
You see this a lot in organizations, in government situations, companies, schools, and so on. We use it to show belonging, to be a member of something.
Let's look at these examples, here.
"She's the head of the company."
"She's the head of the company" means she's the top of the company.
So, in these patterns, the company is the organization. That's the group. "The head" means the top or her position, the way in which she belongs to the company. She's the head of the company. We could change this part right here to reflect a different position in the organization. She's a manager in the company. She's a worker in the company.
But you'll notice, we change "of" to "in" in situations like that because it's like we're not talking about one specific key figure. We're talking about one person that's kind of like a member of a group. So, "she's a manager of the company," might be used in situations where a person is like a top manager. So, this is kind of another key point. We use this "of" pattern when belonging, to talk about like, key roles in organization or key roles for organizations. So, she's the head of the company. In contrast, we would not say, "She's the head in the company." We would not use a pattern like that, "She's the head of the company."
Let's look at another example here.
"Have you ever seen the Queen of England?"
Here, England is a country, but we think of England as our group, our organization.
Queen then, "the Queen" shows this top-level position. So, "the Queen of England," meaning she is the "Queen" that belongs to England, so this shows here relationship to this larger organization, in this case, a country. So, "the Queen of England." So, we would use this again for, like politicians. We could use this for public figures, kings, queens, and so on, but again, they're at this very high-level position in their organization.
So let's look at one maybe smaller-level organization for this last example.
"We're the leaders of this group."
So this could be a volunteer group in your community, for example.
Here, the "group" is our organization; "the leaders," the leaders, in this case more than one person. The leaders are the top people in the organization. We connect the top people to the organization to which they belong with the word "of."
"We're the leaders of this group."
So, if we wanted to talk about the members, we could say, "we are members of (such and such) group," yes, but you would use that if you're introducing yourself to someone outside the situation and you kind of want to show, perhaps, a sense of pride in your belonging. We tend to use "in" more when we're talking more internally, I feel. So like, "I'm a member of (such and such) group," would be okay, but we would probably use, for like companies and so on, like "a manager in this company." So, there are a couple of situations where there's a little bit of flexibility in terms of the preposition that's used, but a good rule is that when you're talking about the leader of something, the leader of a group or the leader of an organization, you can use "of" to show their role, so leader, queen, king, head of company and use "of" to connect it through the company name, the organization name, the country name and so on.
If you want to talk about the members of something, if you're talking to someone outside the group, it might be a good idea to use "of." "I'm a member of (such and such) group" or "I'm a manager in this company." I would prefer personally to use "in" for talking about company sorts of things. I would probably use "of" for talking about, like group-related things. So this is perhaps a small point that's a little bit different for lower-level people in organizations. But, as I said, a good rule is to show belonging for people at the tops of organizations with "of."
So I hope that this lesson gave you some good ideas and some good chances to practice these three uses of the word "of." As I said, there are many other ways to use this word, but I feel that these are probably some of the most common ways and perhaps we can talk more about other uses of "of" in another video in the future. If you have any questions or comments or if you want to practice making a sentence with this word, please feel free to do so in the comment section. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!


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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Sunday at 03:44 PM
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Hi there Mediha and ABC,

You're welcome! Thanks for your post and the positive feedback!

@Mediha - Where have you been asking your questions? We always answer our students if you comment on our site. ๐Ÿ‘

You don't need to have 'a' in the example you mentioned. 'A' is the article and if it is left out it is talking about an unidentifiable section.

I hope this is helpful to you! ๐Ÿ˜„



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Friday at 02:49 AM
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Your videos are very useful, thanks.

But I have a question today. Why don't you use "a" for the part of the table in this example sentence "he broke part of my table"?

I haven't get the answers of my questions before :( Please answer my question this time.

Thursday at 01:09 PM
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Thanks teacher๐Ÿ˜

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Thursday at 08:53 AM
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Hi there Nubia,

Thanks for your post and the positive feedback!

Please feel free to shoot through any questions you have throughout your studies.



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nubia daza
Wednesday at 05:17 AM
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Thanks for this lesson, it is amazing!!!