How to use possessive by and of ? On the internet I have read that we use by with one work or one kind of work and of when we mean all the works.

  • Example: A writer A wrote many books. He wrote five romantic books and eight adventure books.
    1. This romantic book is by A.
    2. All the books are of A.
  • Example: A writer B wrote eleven books (five horror books, six school books), built five houses, painted seven paintings and make three cars.
    1. These three horror books are by B.
    2. All these books (eleven) are by B.
    3. These two paintings and those two houses are by B.
    4. These paintings (seven) and houses (five) are by B.
    5. All these things (eleven books, five houses, seven paintings, three cars) are of B.

Did I understand it correctly?


1 Answer 1


Books are written BY people, drawings/paintings made BY them, houses built BY them.

The preposition BY is being used to introduce the agent.

The preposition OF is used in these cases for content.

A book OF love stories, a painting OF my son, a house (made) OF wood.

The preposition OF can also be used possessively to indicate to whom something belongs.

A book of John's, the house of the parson.

It is also possible to refer to:

A poem/play of Shakespeare's

meaning a poem that he composed; that's to say, by Shakespeare.

It's a bit trickier when it comes to a painting/drawing of:

A painting/drawing of John

means that an artist has painted or drawn a portrait of John.

A painting/drawing of John's

means that it belongs to John.

  • I mean this : When you are talking about everything someone has painted, written, etc., use of. When you are referring to one or more examples of somebody’s work, use by:a painting by Monet Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 11:35
  • @ĽubomírMasarovič This distinction is only observed in attributive use (Hamlet by Shakespeare, the plays of Shakespeare); in predicative use only by is used (All these plays are by Shakespeare). Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 12:41
  • @StoneyB Does it mean we use be + by and noun + of ? Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 9:33

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