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When I want to say that a piece of plywood is square or rectangular (board /panel) and not long and narrow (strip / slat), can I say "they are of board"?

Or just say that they are boards, not strips?

  • A board could be long and narrow too (e.g. a floorboard). Simpler to just say that the piece is square. – Kate Bunting Mar 3 '17 at 9:16
  • It's chunky (fattish). 'Be of' is dated and reminds me of 'be of good cheer' or 'with child.' – Yosef Baskin Mar 3 '17 at 20:24
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Although some dictionary definitions of "board" imply that it is a rectangular shape rather than a perfect square, either by using the word "rectangular" or "long", the word primarily describes the material (which could be any wood, timber, or even man-made fibres such as MDF), not the shape. On the other hand, the word "strip" means a "long and narrow" piece of almost any material, so this word is very much defining a shape, not a particular material or type of material. You cannot, therefore, assume that these two words are interchangeable.

Your suggested sentence "they are of board" does not sound idiomatic at all. Because "boards" can be made from a range of materials we would not say something is made "of board". However, we do tend to collectively call pre-cut boards "boarding", and if you cut a board into strips, for example, you could refer to them as "strips of boarding".

To describe pre-cut boards of wood I would simply say they are "boards", or "some boarding".

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"they are of board" sounds really alien, I advise you against using it.

I would say it simple:

square / rectangular piece of plywood

If the material is not relevant, but only the purpose (e.g. some flat surface to write on), just use:

board / blackboard / whiteboard

As an extra, "board" refers usually to a surface (thin flat "object"), rather than to a shape.

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