'be of + noun' vs. 'be adjective'

taked4700

Senior Member
japanese japan
Hello,

What is the difference between the two?

1. It is of great danger to go to the area without a bodyguard in the night.

2. It is very dangerous to go to the area without a bodyguard in the night.

I reckon No.1 implies a little more formality.
 
  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    1. It is of great danger to go to that area without a bodyguard at night.
    2. It is very dangerous to go to that area without a bodyguard at night.
    Hi, just two corrections, 'the' should be 'that' as you're referring to a specific place (you can't mean everywhere:p) 'in the night' it sounds better with 'at'...

    I would always say number 2, 1 is very strange, I can't even tell if it can be considered correct as I only go by what sounds right, but as I've come to discover, there are many things considered 'correct' that nobody on this planet would ever say..
    I have never in my entire life heard 1), so my recommendation would be to use No 2.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.

    I always welcome corrections.

    In fact, I'm not confident in using English to communicate with others. It is also very hard for me to understand the differences between 'the' and 'that' and other things.

    Let me ask one more.

    3. All the blocks must be the same color.

    4. All the blocks must be of the same color.

    Are both correct? If so, what difference do you see?
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Of course it's difficult for you, you're Japaneese, and Japanese doesn't have articles, so they must be a very confusing thing!! :)

    Your second one... both are fine, that 'of' sounds a lot better than the 'of' in the first post, of course 3. is more common, but 4. is also fine, (a little bit more formal).
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.


    5. All the blocks must be the same color as that one.

    6. All the blocks must be of the same color as that one.

    Are those correct?

    Thanks in advance.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yeah that is the same as #3 .. (essentially, regarding the 'of' question)

    5 + 6 are fine, 5 is more common, 6 is a little bit more formal.

    I think the reason is "of the same colour" is fairly common, they all 'belong' to the same colour so-to-speak, but 'of danger' doesn't really work in the same way (and that's why it didn't sound good in the first post)
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.

    How about these?

    7. These sewing machines are of great use.

    8. These sewing machines are very useful.

    Are both correct and idiomatic?

    Many thanks in advance.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.


    1. It is of great danger to go to that area without a bodyguard at night.

    7. These sewing machines are of great use.

    I couldn't see the difference between the two.

    Let me assume one thing.

    To go to a certain area at night is an everyday occurrence. So it needs to use a casual way to express it. But 'of great danger' is not a casual expression. This is the reason native English speakers judge No.1 is not idiomatic.

    Is this guess right?

    Thanks in advance.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It's more of the fact that it's acceptable to say "of <adjective><noun>" for certain things, 'use/colour' are fine, but danger is not, I'm not sure how best to explain this but..

    I just don't know I'm sorry, I think it's best to understand this 'of' construction, works well in some cases but doesn't work in a lot of others, and try to learn where it sounds normal...

    You are correct 'of great danger' is not a casual expression.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.

    9. Those ancient constructions were of splendid height.

    10. Those ancient constructions were splendidly high.

    Are Those idiomatic?

    Or you don't say 'splendidly high'?

    Thanks in advance.
     

    desert_fox

    Senior Member
    English
    Hello,

    What is the difference between the two?

    1. It is of great danger to go to the area without a bodyguard in the night.

    2. It is very dangerous to go to the area without a bodyguard in the night.

    I reckon No.1 implies a little more formality.
    .............................................................

    Danger is a thing...a noun. Great danger describes what kind of danger is present.

    Dangerous is an adejective...it describes the area. Very (adverb), further modifys dangerous to indicate how dangerous the situation is.

    I would use the adjective form. It is very dangerous to go to THAT area without a boduguard AT night.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you, Alxmrphi.

    9. Those ancient constructions were of splendid height.

    10. Those ancient constructions were splendidly high.

    Are Those idiomatic?

    Or you don't say 'splendidly high'?

    Thanks in advance.
    No, those are not idiomatic.

    Splendid (which means magnificent, radiant, excellent, acclaimed) does not collocate with height. And even if you did use the phrase, it would be ‘they are of a splendid height’.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, Johndot, Alxmrphi, Desert_fox.

    I guess these two sentences are idiomatic.

    11.Those ancient constructions were all of splendor.

    12. Those ancient constructions were all splendid.

    Am I correct?
     

    ATLGradStudent

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Taked --

    Of all the sentences you have listed, I would chose the adjectival form as opposed to the "be of" form. While some of the "be of" forms may be grammatically correct, most of them sound incorrect and none of them sound markedly better than the adjectival forms. Some of them sound pretentious rather than just formal.

    As an added bonus, it will make it easier for you.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Taked --

    Of all the sentences you have listed, I would chose the adjectival form as opposed to the "be of" form. While some of the "be of" forms may be grammatically correct, most of them sound incorrect and none of them sound markedly better than the adjectival forms. Some of them sound pretentious rather than just formal.

    As an added bonus, it will make it easier for you.
    I absolutely agree. To say "These sewing machines are of great use" or "All of these blocks must be of the same colour" is grammatically correct but not idiomatic. This use might be appropriate in certain writings but sound stilted and old-fashioned in speech.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Thank you, all.

    I understand that the word 'idiomatic' means a certain expression is used in a daily conversation and in this sense, "These sewing machines are of great use" or "All of these blocks must be of the same colour" is not the one you use in a daily convesation.

    Thanks again.
     

    bonbon2023

    Senior Member
    Korean(south)
    be of
    possess intrinsically; give rise to
    13-A.This work is of great interest and value 13-B.This work is greatly interesting and valuable.
    14-A.This is a matter of importance. 14-B.This is an important matter.
    15-A."It is true of every case." 15-B."It is true in every case."
    (Source:Oxford Dictionary, Doosan English-Korean dictionary)

    The left sentences are excerpts from the stated source(A), and I wrote sentences having familiar structure to me on the right(B).
    Does each two-sentence 13 to 15 mean the same thing except for the nuance of formality?
    And I'm not sure whether the sentence 15-A sounds natural.
     
    Last edited:

    le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    Sorry to barge in like that, but it seems to me the adjectives and adverbs are mostly irrelevant here.
    Some nouns are used with 'of' to act as adjectives, some just aren't, however syntactically correct that usage would be.

    "of use", "of value" are OK, "of danger", "of height" are not.

    Adding more words to the mix does not make much difference, except maybe in some fixed expressions (none of which I could think of, but I'm no native).
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Some nouns are used with 'of' to act as adjectives, some just aren't, however syntactically correct that usage would be.
    I think this is it in a nutshell. :)

    I'd happily accept "of great interest", "of importance" and possibly "of the same colour", but most of the other "of...[noun]" examples in this thread sound a bit bizarre to me, quite honestly.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Here are some of the most common phrases, found by searching with "it is of great":

    Google Ngram Viewer

    "A situation of great danger", "a monument of great antiquity", "walls of great height", "lakes of great depth" are good, but without "great" they don't really work.
     

    le chat noir

    Senior Member
    French
    I just remembered one example of fixed expressions : "a man of might" or "a man of means". Not sure if there are many like that though.

    These examples with "great" could be rephrased as "whose xxx is great", i.e. qualifying an intrinsic quality (the danger of a situation, the depth of a lake...).

    Maybe that's one logical way of looking at it: a wall intrinsically has a height, so "a wall of height" does not give any extra information about the wall, while "a high wall" implies the height is above average.
    On the other hand, "of value" might work with about anything (especially in our materialistic culture where about anything can be sold or deemed useless :)).
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    Maybe that's one logical way of looking at it: a wall intrinsically has a height, so "a wall of height" does not give any extra information about the wall, while "a high wall" implies the height is above average.
    On the other hand, "of value" might work with about anything (especially in our materialistic culture where about anything can be sold or deemed useless :)).
    I think you are right and very logical.

    That being said, I wonder which of the two sentences is more idiomatic.

    1. She has a golden heart.

    2. She has a heart of gold.

    I guess "of gold" would work as well as "of value".

    Thanks in advance.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    That being said, I wonder which of the two sentences is more idiomatic.

    1. She has a golden heart.

    2. She has a heart of gold.

    I guess "of gold" would work as well as "of value".
    Yes, it's (2): To describe someone as having "a heart of gold" is very idiomatic. It's virtually a 'set phrase'. :)
     
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