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For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence

What's the meaning of of here? Would it have a different meaning, if I rephrase it with "were frequent occurrences"? Is this usage of of the same thing as in "be of no use"? If so then, what's the meaning of of in "be of no use"?

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  • Are you looking for an answer in terms of formal grammar or in terms of usage (everyday meaning)? Oct 29 '20 at 21:27
  • @CroadLangshan Both of them please if possible.
    – dolco
    Oct 29 '20 at 21:45
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I can't say much about formal grammar but as far as meaning goes: The literal meanings of the following two sentences are the same as far as I can see:

For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence

For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were frequent occurrences

The only difference that comes to mind is that "were of frequent occurrence" is very formal both because of the vocab and the grammatical construction, to the extent that on its own without context that phrase sounds condemnatory to me. "Were frequent occurrences" is still formal but less so. I'd expect to hear "were of frequent occurrence" coming out of the mouth of a police officer in court maybe, or in a written report or academic writing in particularly formal style, or somebody being formal for comedic effect maybe.

I guess it's the same grammatical construction as "be of no use". Again two examples with the same literal meaning but different formality:

I could do it, but that would be of no use.

I could do it, but that would be no use.

They both say that if I did "it", then I'm not going to be better off for it.

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