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Should I use "of" or "in" in my sentence?

"German is the official language of/in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

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    Antonia, whether you use 'of' or 'in', the sentence is not accurate. May 25, 2021 at 11:05

2 Answers 2

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The definite article 'the' makes the sentence incorrect. Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German; Switzerland has four: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Luxembourg has three: French, German, and Luxembourgish. Also, 'of' is the usual preposition for a official aspect of a state (language, capital city, currency, etc).

You can say

German is the official language of Germany and Austria, and an official language of Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

For completeness, you could include 'the Italian province of Alto Adige (South Tyrol)' in the second group.

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Both ‘of’ and ‘in’ the sentence. However, ‘of’ seems more appropriate.

German is the official language in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

The TOP one is not so appropriate.

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  • What if I say instead "German is one of the official languages in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein"? May 25, 2021 at 11:11
  • Is "in" incorrect? May 25, 2021 at 11:12
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    @AntoniaA See updated answer. May 25, 2021 at 11:29
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    @AntoniaA - there is only one suggested sentence in my answer. May 25, 2021 at 11:49
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    It would be wrong to say "German is one of the official languages of Germany", because it would strongly imply that Germany had other official languages. It would also be odd (but not wrong) to say "German is an official language of Germany", because it would suggest that it had others. However, when combining multiple countries, you could say "German is an official language of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland [etc]" (to avoid using both articles), and this would be fine, although Michael's formulation is obviously more accurate.
    – rjpond
    May 25, 2021 at 13:00

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