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The pain is of a degree that calls for morphine.

Can we change be + of with has?

The pain has a degree that calls for morphine.

I know we can not do that in every sentence with of ... then, what is the rule here that allows us to make this change in some sentences ? thanks

2 Answers 2

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to be of and to have express two different ideas although in some contexts they may seem similar

  • to have is a verb describing possession of the subject.

  • to be of describes a property or origin of the subject.

"Degree" is describing the quality of the pain; we wouldn't think of a degree as something the pain has/possesses.

Thus,

The pain is of a degree that calls for morphine

would be understood.

The pain has a degree that calls for morphine

sounds unnatural.

If you want to use "has", you could say:

The pain has an intensity that calls for morphine

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The pain is of a degree is not idiomatic. One has to start with a grammatical sentence. An English speaker would say: The X of Y for this structure.

Idiomatically, we would say: The degree of (the) pain calls for morphine. The extent of the damage is sad. '

Nouns qualifying the intensity of some condition:

The level of [noun]

The intensity of [noun]

The extent of [noun]

The degree of [noun]

The lack of [noun]

This is not a full list, it is merely illustrative of the structure here...

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    Not idiomatic doesn't make a sentence ungrammatical. "The degree of this pain calls for morphine" may be more likely, but I'm not actually sure that "is of a degree" would not be understood easily or found in actual English writing. It does have non-zero use in NGrams
    – eques
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 14:17
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    of a degree here is perfectly ok. Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 16:47
  • It is not about being understood. The examples you posted are very complex albeit unedited sentences. /The level of pastiche/ + /of a level is REDUNDANT/. It should be; /The level of pastiche in the movie is only matched by/ The standard way to express this is: [adjective] degree of pain calls for. Using NGram as proof of anything linguistic is a fallacy. And /Here is a fusion etc./ also sounds unedited. Of a degree is not wrong in and of itself. Let's not confuse unedited text "found on the Internet (NGram) and what could be said more idiomatically.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 17:56

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