Ok, in cambridge dictionary

of: preposition (MADE OF): made or consisting of; having:

dresses of lace and silk

plates of gold and silver

a land of ice and snow

a woman of great charm

a subject of very little interest

in Longman dictionary

in /ɪn/ ●●● S1 W1 preposition

18: used to say what colour something is or what it is made of

Do you have the same pattern in blue?

a sculpture in white marble

SO, based on the dictionaries, we can say "a plate of gold" & "a plate in gold". "I ordered a dress in cotton" & "I ordered a dress of cotton"

What are the differences between "a plate of gold" & "a plate in gold"?

  • 1
    We use "in" with sculpture to specify the material because "of" is used to indicate the subject matter of the sculpture. E.g. A sculpture of the Virgin Mary in marble. Jan 14, 2019 at 15:33
  • 1
    This is similar to saying a plate of sandwiches, meaning that there are sandwiches on the plate, not that the plate is made of sandwiches. (Meanwhile, a plate in sandwiches would likely be interpreted to mean a plate buried among sandwiches rather than its material composition. So, the context is important too.) Jan 14, 2019 at 15:44
  • In the jewellers, for example, you might be looking at a nice silver ring. In which context you could reasonably ask Do you have this ring in gold? Where most likely you'd actually mean made of the metal gold. But the corresponding question in a clothing boutique (Do you have this dress in gold?) would obviously mean in the colour gold. Jan 14, 2019 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


Consider the following sentence:

Michelangelo sculpted his captives in marble.

The choice of preposition there is driven by the verb sculpted, just as we would say "wrote his thesis in red ink".

The object of preposition in is a medium (of expression).


Archeologists discovered several statues made of marble.

There, again, the choice of preposition is driven by the verb, made. The object of preposition of is a substance or material.

What is the difference between a substance and a medium? It's the same difference as the difference between the naked and the nude.

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