I read the below statement today.

"Muhammad Ali was born in the small town of Louisville." Here Louisville is described as a small town.

Normally when we use "small town of XXX", are we decribing

  1. XXX as a small town, or
  2. a small town inside something bigger called XXX(Let's say, a country)

Can someone please explain how does one interpret such statements?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Louisville is a city in the state of Kentucky in the United States. I’m surprised your source would leave out the state, unless the publication was local, like a Louisville newspaper. – Xanne Sep 4 '19 at 5:58
  • I read it in a book. It only mentioned the city/town. Can you please explain how to decide on which explanation to use? – Chen Reddy Sundeep Sep 4 '19 at 6:16
  • Both your explanations are okay, and they’re the same, aren’t they? I think all small towns are part of larger entities, from counties to states to countries. – Xanne Sep 4 '19 at 6:26
  • 1
    Then it would be your first case—“small town of Louisville” means a small town named Louisville. A small town in the USA would be used if you don’t name the town. – Xanne Sep 4 '19 at 6:51
  • 1
    Good question. However, this is better asked on English Language Learners. Voting to migrate. – Kris Sep 4 '19 at 10:01

Firstly, note the definite article in "the small town of Louisville." While "XXX is a small town of …" has the indefinite article.

Both are valid, each with its distinctive meaning.

In the context, it means "the small town called Louisville".


  • 1
    Thanks... It answered my question. – Chen Reddy Sundeep Sep 4 '19 at 16:51
  • 1
    This is sense #11 of the preposition definitions at thefreedictionary.com/of – Barmar Sep 4 '19 at 23:35

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