For example,

It is of no great bulk.

It is of no use whatever.

This book is of elegant format.

and so on.

I don't understand why don't use 'is' but 'is + preposition'? especially 'is of'

And what is difference between them?

  • You say "format of sth", "usage of sth", etc. So you also need that "of" when you reshape your sentences. Do you think "This book is elegant format" could make any sense? – M-J Aug 2 '17 at 11:54

A preposition phrase headed by of is a common way of attributing a quality to a noun, either as a modifier or as a predicate:

a man of discretion = a man who ‘possesses’ discretion, “a discreet man”.

This approach is of value. = This approach ‘possesses’ value, “it is valuable”.

This construction pushes the attributed quality to the end of the phrase or clause, the emphatic position where ‘new information’ usually appears.

The construction is particularly useful with a modified oblique—that is, of ADJ NOUN—where the alternative ADV + ADJ would be awkward:

This is a problem of challenging difficulty vs This is a ?challengingly difficult problem.


According to the Oxford Dictionary, the phrase is of means

Possess intrinsically; give rise to.

Bulk and usefulness are characteristics of something: it possesses those characteristic intrinsically, so you should say

It is of no great bulk
It is of no use whatsoever.

Similarly, something may give rise to interest, so you might say

It is of no interest to me.

  • Then "is of" is something like "have"? – Orient Aug 5 '17 at 13:14
  • 1
    @bowstring: the first meaning might be replaced by have, but not the second. – JavaLatte Aug 6 '17 at 14:49

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