English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We have a party on Christmas Day, and Scott, his wheel chair decorated with red and green crepe paper, greets everyone at the door. He puts on a laughing red Santa mask and gives fractured ho-ho-hos as we give out the small Christmas ornaments we've made, of twigs wound around glass crystals.

These has sentences have been taken from Reader's Digest, January, 2006. The name of the story from which these sentences have been taken is Your son is in a coma.

If I say toy of David, books of David, cell-phone of David, all make sense. But in the above sentence no noun or pronoun has been placed before of (....., of twigs wound around...). I failed to understand it.

I would appreciate it if experts help me to realize this fact.

share|improve this question
4  
We seldom say "something of someone" to indicate possession. It is more common to use 's: David's toy, David's books. If we do use "something of someone", it is usually in describing creator and creative work relationships "greatest works of Bach", family relationships "a cousin of my mother", and to emphasize the person by positioning it later: That wasn't Mary's friend, it was a friend of the other girl. English learners often overuse "something of someone" because it closely matches how possession is most commonly expressed in other languages. – Jim Reynolds Mar 25 at 7:08
4  
I'm gonna say it: bad comma! No doughnut! – Kristopher Mar 25 at 11:46
    
Yes, as Kristopher I think the sentence would be better without comma: ... Christmas ornaments | we have made of twigs | wound around glas crystals. – rogermue Mar 25 at 16:34
1  
With comma I would understand the sentence as elliptic: We give out the small Christmas ornaments we have made, (ornaments made) of twigs wound around glas crystals. – rogermue Mar 26 at 5:01
1  
@rogermue or even with the "we've": "[...] we give out the small Christmas ornaments we've made, (ornaments we've made) of twigs wound around glass crystals." – Mathieu K. Mar 26 at 5:28

"Of" is used to indicate the genitive, which can be used to express ownership, quantity, composition, properties and a few other things.

"The book of John" expresses ownership, though in most situations we would instead say "John's book". For composition, you might say, for example, "the table is made of wood"

...we give out the small Christmas ornaments we've made, of twigs wound around glass crystals

In this sentence, the construction is unusual, but the implication is that the verb just before the comma also applies to the clause after the comma:

[made] of twigs around glass crystals

"Of" in this sentence indicates composition

share|improve this answer

Of can be "used to indicate what something is made from or includes" (definition #7). Here, the antecedent is small Christmas ornaments we've made: the ornaments are made out of twigs wound around glass crystals.

share|improve this answer

Of all the questions I've ever seen on Stack Exchange, this is the first one for which I could provide a self-referential answer.

Of the many ways I might have thought to answer this question, I thought the most amusing would be to simply demonstrate counterexamples.

Of the specific example in the OP, it can clearly be seen that the preposition "of" modifies the verb "made", but the more general question needs to be answered as well.

Of all of the different ways that the word "of" can be used, having it follow a noun or pronoun is but one.

Of course, some people might not feel such an approach provides a fully fleshed-out answer.

share|improve this answer
    
Clever, but is the sense of "of" in your answer really the same as the sense he's asking about? – Barmar Mar 25 at 18:17
    
@Barmar They're not the same senses (I consider "Of course" a different sense from the others) as the one specific example given in the question (and answered in the third point here), but they definitely provide counterexamples for the title as currently written. – Monty Harder Mar 28 at 14:26

"ornaments" is the (collective) noun before "of". The comma is not misplaced here.

share|improve this answer

I think the writer was trying (perhaps unskilfully) to avoid using the word "made" twice in one sentence.

The sentence is making two different statements about the ornaments: (1) We made the ornaments, and (2) The ornaments were made of twigs, etc.

A grammatically "correct" alternative would be

...the small Christmas ornaments [that] we have made, made of twigs wound around glass crystals.

If you attempt to separate the two "made"s by changing the order of the phrases and putting the longer phrase first, the reader might ignore the comma after "crystals," which would make the phrase "that we have made" describe the crystals, not the ornaments:

...the small Christmas ornaments, made of twigs wound around glass crystals, that we have made.

A neater solution would be to make the phrase "of twigs..." describe the making of the ornaments, not the ornaments themselves, simply by deleting the comma:

...the small Christmas ornaments we've made of twigs wound around glass crystals.

or personally, I would prefer "from" not "of":

...the small Christmas ornaments we've made from twigs wound around glass crystals.

share|improve this answer
    
All of your example sentences read worse than the quotation in the question, which is grammatically correct, idiomatic English (with the comma appropriately placed, regardless of the opinion of some commenters). I'm wondering if American English makes less use of 'X of Y' style constructs (like 'nugget of purest green'), which would explain why some commenters seem to find it unnatural. – Nye Mar 25 at 21:39
    
@Nye Yes, it does. – Mathieu K. Mar 26 at 5:30

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.