I think I don't know much about the preposition 'of'.

"The five of us", "Five of us", and "Five all of us".

Would you please explain to me the difference between them?

Thank you.

  • 2
    "The five of us" - particular five members (it could be 5 out of 20, or 5 out of 5). "The five of us are the best friends". "They say they need five of us to come to help them" (there is 20 of us but they need just any 5 people). I don't know about "five all of us", I'd use "All five of us" instead and it would mean a group of five, basically the same thing as "the five of us" above.
    – Vico Lemp
    Apr 5, 2017 at 9:12
  • @Chenmunka: Don't let changes to the question like "five all" -> "all five" go through without comment. Apr 5, 2017 at 10:15
  • @NathanTuggy: whoops, missed that one. You're right.
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 5, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    The indefinite form has at least two senses. “Five of us were there”: I was one of five people present. “The task needs five of us”: ‘us’ means a larger group including the speaker, but the speaker may or may not be one of the five. Apr 9, 2017 at 22:14

2 Answers 2

  • "The five of us" implies that the "we" in question includes five people, and they are all being referred to.

    • The sentence may be about the five people as a group, as in "The five of us make a great team!", or as individuals, as in "The five of us had each been selected for a different skill."
    • In some cases, one could imagine the "we" being part of a larger group; in such cases, the "five" makes it clearer which "we" is being referred to. For example, "My Mom and Dad had a lot of difficulty raising three kids, but for the most part, the five of us were happy" makes perfect sense (with "us" being the two parents and three kids), but so does "My Mom and Dad had a lot of difficulty raising my four brothers and me, but for the most part, the five of us were happy" (with "us" being just the five kids).
  • "Five of us" implies that "we" are more than five people, of whom an unspecified five are being referred to.

    • As above, the sentence may be about those five people as a group, or about them as individuals.
    • The five people can potentially be specified later in the sentence, as in "Five of us already knew each other: A, B, C, D, and E. The rest were strangers."
    • At the opposite extreme, the five people may be fundamentally non-specific or even hypothetical, as in, "They said they needed five of us to help, but ultimately only three of us volunteered."
  • "Five all of us" is not English.

  • You didn't ask about "all five of us", but: it's roughly synonymous with "the five of us", except that it emphasizes the all. Also, it generally refers to the five people as individuals; something like "All five of us already knew each other" is fine, but something like "All five of us make a great team!" is awkward at best.

  • You also didn't ask about "we five" and "us five", but: they're both synonymous with "the five of us". In theory, "we five" is used as a subject and "us five" as an object, but in practice, both are found both ways.

  • I'm so sorry. I've just read this. Thank you very much.
    – JS.Kim.
    May 7, 2017 at 12:22

The five of us - this refers to some definite five out of many.

  • "We were ambushed and were taken down like flies but the five of us survived." - Five people who are probably now together telling the story, people who are defined now or earlier. We know which five are mentioned.

Five of us - this refers to just any five people out of many.

  • "The bus-stop was full of people and there was little space in the bus so only five of us could get in." - Some five people, we don't know who they were. If there were 7 people then 5 who got in could be 1,3,4,6, and 7 or maybe 1,2,4,5, and 7 or 2,3,4,5, and 6. But one of them is the speaker (4 in my example). Concerning the The five of us it would be a fixed list: 1,3,4,5, and 7 for instance and none other.

Five all of us is probably the incorrect version for All (the) five of us and refers to a group of five definite or non-definite people.

  • "I went to the bookstore to buy a book I read about and there were 4 more people there besides me and can you believe it all five of us bought the same book." - Some five people out of five. The speaker doesn't know the other 4.

  • "We were driving to the village when we saw a girl on the road. She was beautiful and needed help with fixing her car. We stopped and helped her very quickly since all the five of us were taking part in repairs." - Five out of five definite people (friends in my example). We know exactly that there were five people.

As Anton Sherwood commented the indefinite form (without the) may or may not imply party affiliation. In most cases I would say it doesn't.

  • "Our class consists of 18 pupils but the teacher could take only five of us with him on the trip." - This can mean that I was one of those five pupils who had the opportunity to go with the teacher or I could be one of those five pupils who could have had the opportunity but I wasn't.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .