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What is the meaning of "of trouble" in the following sentence:

Reports are now coming in of trouble at yet another jail.

Does it mean "Reports(=trouble at yet another jail) are now received" ?

What is the difference between without "of":

Reports are now coming in trouble at yet another jail.

and with "of":

Reports are now coming in of trouble at yet another jail.

25

Consider the sentence in two parts:

1. Reports are now coming in.
2. There is trouble at yet another jail.

Or look at it in a conversation:

"We're now getting a lot of reports."
"Oh, really? What do they say?"
"There's trouble at yet another jail."

In the sentence, of is used to indicate the reports' subject matter. Several different words could be used to express the same thing:

Reports are now coming in of trouble at yet another jail.
Reports are now coming in about trouble at yet another jail.
Reports are now coming in concerning trouble at yet another jail.
Reports are now coming in in relation to trouble at yet another jail.
Reports are now coming in on the topic of trouble at yet another jail.
Reports are now coming in that say there is trouble at yet another jail.


Syntactically, reports are not the same thing as trouble. It's like a bowl of ice cream. The bowl contains ice cream, but the bowl isn't the ice cream. You can't just remove of (without replacing it with something else) and have the phrase make sense.

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    In addition to this great answer, I feel like the original sentence is poorly worded. I would have written "Reports of trouble are now coming in from yet another local jail." Seems like that wording is much clearer, especially in making the bold phrase clear by having it all together. – Todd Wilcox Apr 8 '19 at 13:19
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    @ToddWilcox: There's a difference in meaning, though. In your form, the reports come from the jail. In the original, the reports could come from anywhere: maybe the jail, maybe a government office, maybe rumour from an inmate's cousin's girlfriend's best friend's nephew. – Tim Pederick Apr 8 '19 at 13:50
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    @TimPederick Good point. In that case, "Reports of trouble at another local jail are now coming in," seems clearer. Optionally add: "from all over/from the government/from an inmate's cousin's girlfriend's best friend's nephew". – Todd Wilcox Apr 8 '19 at 13:54
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    @ToddWilcox How does moving "are now coming in" from the beginning to the end make it clearer? The two sentences communicate exactly the same thing. There is trouble at another local jail, and reports are coming in about that. – Anthony Grist Apr 8 '19 at 15:21
  • @JasonBassford: as I indicated in my answer, I think that "reports of" actually has a different meaning from "reports about" etc. In my view, the first and last of your examples are close in meaning, but the others have a different meaning. – Colin Fine Apr 8 '19 at 17:25
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The role of "of" is clearer if you move "are now coming in" to the end of the sentence:

Reports of trouble at yet another jail are now coming in.

Or, reduce the sentence to:

Reports of trouble are coming in.

We have reports of trouble.

"Of" says what the reports are about. You can't remove it. Compare "reports of trouble" with "pictures of boats", "sales of houses", etc. Without "of", "Reports trouble are coming in" doesn't work.

(You could say: "Trouble reports are coming in", although that wouldn't work with the longer description "trouble at yet another jail".)

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    This follows the logic and shows the displacement. – Lambie Apr 8 '19 at 18:18
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I cannot parse this without "of", as the noun phrase "trouble at yet another jail" has nothing to give it a grammatical role in the sentence.

With "of", this indicates the particular meaning of the noun report which takes a complement with "of": a message that something has occurred or been witnessed, without necessarily having any more detail. This is distinct from the meaning of report when followed by "about" or "concerning", which usually implies a degree of detail.

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No answers that define what "Reports are now coming in trouble at yet another jail" means:

I get the sense that we have some naughty reports that are assaulting more jails or the reports are not having much success at attacking jails. (The jails are fighting back?)

This shift is by taking "in trouble" from the "coming in" verb phrase. Since "at" appears after "in trouble", you get the new "coming at" verb phrase, which basically means fighting or brawling. The "In trouble" can either mean one has been caught and will be punished or some issue has come up and failure is becoming more likely.

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Reports are now coming in of trouble at yet another jail.

The standard order here would be:

Reports of trouble at yet another jail are now coming in.

In newspeak, reports of trouble, reports of rioting, reports of [whatever] are common usages.

at yet another just means: there is has already been reports of trouble at one jail. This is the second.

Yet another child almost drowned at the lake. [there was already one]

This sounds like a reporter speaking live, and that sometimes causes unusual word order. But it is not wrong for speech.

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