They used to build houses

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mimi2, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. mimi2 Senior Member

    vietnam vietnamese
    I say:
    They used to build houses of mud and straw because they didn't have cement.
    This time I used "of mud and straw", I didn't use "by" or "with". I really don't understand. It is strange to me.
    Please tell me if this sentence is right?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Mimi,

    Your sentence is absolutely right. You use "of" because you are describing the materials of which the buildings were composed. You could have also said,
    They used to build houses using mud and straw because...
    They used to build houses with mud and straw because...

    Hope this helps,
    Joelline
     
  3. mimi2 Senior Member

    vietnam vietnamese
    Joelline,
    You help me a lot. Thank you very much.
    I would like to ask you about the sentence above:
    * What kind of the word "using"? Is it a present participle? Is it replaced a another clause?
    Thanks.
     
  4. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Your sentence is right, Mimi, but to really confuse matters, you could have also used "with" ie:

    "They used to build houses with mud and straw because they didn't have cement."

    "With" better conveys the manner of building and places more emphasis on how the houses were built. "Of" is more benign and places more emphasis on the fact that they didn't have cement.
     
  5. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Mimi,

    In this sentence, "using" is, indeed, a present participle.
     
  6. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "They built houses of mud and straw."
    "They built houses with mud and straw."

    In the first sentence, "of mud and straw" is an adjectival prepositional phrase modifying "houses." It tells what kind of houses they are.

    In the second, it is an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying "built." It tells how they built the houses.
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