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Preposition - Of

Preposition - Of

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Preposition "of"

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the preposition "of". We have previously encountered prepositions which help us describe the location of one thing in relation to another or which express a sense of directionality. The preposition "of" has many varied usages. It is sometimes used as a way to express possession. It is sometimes used to describe a part of a whole. It is sometimes used to tell about a container of a substance.It is also sometimes used to describe a distance relative to a specified point. In our study of English, we encounter the preposition "of" in many environments. It is another of the little words which are important in providing explicitness to our language. We will not cover all the uses of the preposition "of" in this lesson, but we will look at some of its common uses.
The preposition "of" is sometimes used to express possession. For example, Jennifer might say "Mrs. Smith is a friend of mine.". This sentence means that Jennifer has several friends, and that Mrs. Smith is one of these friends. Jennifer might also say "Mrs. Smith is one of my friends.". Jennifer might say "David knows Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith is a friend of his." or "Mr. Smith is one of his friends.".We can also say "James is a cousin of Jennifer's.". We use a possessive form of the noun when we use the preposition "of" to show possession.
The preposition "of" is sometimes used to describe part of a whole. For example, we might say "I want a piece of cake.", or "David will eat a slice of toast.".We could say "They eat a lot of beef." or "They eat a few of the apples.".
The preposition "of" is sometimes used to discuss the container of a substance. For example, we could say "David wants a glass of water.", or "Mrs. Smith drinks a cup of coffee.".  
The preposition "of" is sometimes used to describe a distance relative to a specified point. For example, we could say that "The school is west of the office building.", or "Jennifer puts the spoon to the right of the plate.".
We can sometimes use the preposition "of" to ascribe a quality to someone or something. For example, when Mr. Johnson gives the workers a big raise, we can say "That is nice of him." When Jennifer takes care of a lost animal, we might say "That is kind of her.".  
Now that we have seen a few instances of how the preposition "of" can be used, let us listen to the dialog.

Jennifer:  I want a cup of coffee.
David:  Jennifer, you drink a lot of coffee.
Jennifer:  Okay, I will drink a glass of water.
David: I want a cup of tea. Where did you put the box of tea?
Jennifer:  It is to the right of the coffee. I really want a cup of coffee.
David: I will make a pot of coffee.
Jennifer: That is sweet of you.

Now that you have heard the dialog, let us take a look at each sentence to examine how the preposition "of" is used.
At first Jennifer says "I want a cup of coffee.". In this expression, Jennifer uses the preposition "of" to describe the container of a substance. Other similar expressions might be "She wants a glass of wine" or "David will drink a can of beer.".  It does not always refer to foods and drinks. For example, we can say "Jennifer has a folder of papers.", or "David is holding a box of clothing.".
David responds by saying "Jennifer, you drink a lot of coffee.". The expression "a lot of" is very common. It does not always refer to food or drink. We could also use this expression to say "David has a lot of socks.", or "Jennifer reads a lot of books.".
Jennifer responds "Okay, I will drink a glass of water.". This expression works the same as Jennifer's previous statement "I want a cup of coffee.". She is describing the container of the substance. David's next statement, "I want a cup of tea." is similar. It describes the container of the substance. He could also have said, for example, "I want a bowl of cereal.", in which he describes the container – the bowl – of the substance – the cereal.  David's next question, "Where did you put the box of tea?" is a similar use of the preposition "of" in which he uses a container – a box -- of a substance – tea.
Jennifer answers his question by saying "It is to the right of the coffee.". In this expression, Jennifer is using the preposition "of" to describe a location in reference to another location. In this case, the tea is "to the right of the coffee". She could have said "The tea is to the left of the coffee.", or "The tea is on top of the coffee.", or "The tea is in front of the coffee.". These are all very common expressions which describe a location in terms of a specific location. A similar expression might be "The airport is west of the museum.", or "My house is north of the airport.". We can also say "The airport is to the west of the museum.", or "My house is to the north of the airport.".
Telling David where the coffee is reminds Jennifer that she really wants a cup of coffee. Jennifer says again "I really want a cup of coffee.", using the preposition "of" to describe the container of a substance.
David responds "I will make a pot of coffee.", again using the preposition "of" to describe the container of the substance. In this case, the "pot" is the container, and the "coffee" is the substance.
Jennifer responds by saying "That is sweet of you.". In this expression, Jennifer uses the preposition "of" to ascribe a quality to David. She could also have said "That is nice of you.", or "That is kind of you.". Later when she tells her sister that David made coffee, her sister might say "That was nice of him." or "That was nice of David.". David might laughingly brag of it by saying "That was nice of me!".
Listen to the dialog again. Pay attention to the small word "of" and the differing ways in which it is used.
Jennifer:  I want a cup of coffee.
David:  Jennifer, you drink a lot of coffee.
Jennifer:  Okay, I will drink a glass of water.
David: I want a cup of tea. Where did you put the box of tea?
Jennifer:  It is to the right of the coffee. I really want a cup of coffee.
David: I will make a pot of coffee.
Jennifer: That is sweet of you.

Great!  You have learned another little preposition with large importance. Now that you have learned to use the preposition "of", be sure to use it to express possession, location, and to ascribe qualities to people in your conversations in English!