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Tom eagerly finished up what was left of the beer and fried chicken.

I can understand this sentence, but I'm wondering if "be left of something" is a set-phrase. Can "of" with the same use be used elsewhere:

He ate what had gone bad of the chicken.

Does it work? If not, could you please give me some examples?

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    It works, but 'he' would be possibly going to hospital. Nov 9, 2022 at 12:37
  • You might be misparsing the text. The basic assertion is Tom finished up what was left (he consumed everything that remained). It could have been just what was left of the beer (that portion of the beer that hadn't been drunk already). But in this case there was also some uneaten chicken, and he ate that too. Nov 9, 2022 at 12:38
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    What was left of [something] means what remained of [something]. Yes it is a kind of set phrase/expression. The second example is very awkward IMHO. This construction doesn't really work with "gone bad". However you could reword it: He ate the chicken that had gone bad.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 9, 2022 at 13:11
  • Why don't any food-based examples on here ever include anything healthy? All I ever seem to see are fried chicken and the occasional pizza. Nov 9, 2022 at 13:15
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    Then just say that instead. "He ate the part of the chicken that had gone bad". or perhaps "He only ate the chicken that had gone bad". The construction suggested in the question doesn't really work IMHO.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 9, 2022 at 13:34

1 Answer 1

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He ate what had gone bad of the chicken.

This might pass grammatically, but it doesn't make sense. And not simply because nobody would eat chicken that had gone bad (they might, if they were desperate).

When we talk about "what's left of" something, as in your original example, it is a clearly distinguishable part of something. Some of the chicken had previously been eaten, and everything else was what was left of it.

Saying "he ate what had gone bad of the chicken" implies that he was able to distinguish between the good parts and the bad parts and ate only the bad parts. I don't think that is possible or logical. So perhaps it is just a bad example you came up with.

Comparable examples that make sense would include:

  • He saw what was visible of the night sky
  • She spoke to those of the class who had attended
  • They did what was possible of the tasks
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  • Thanks, I get it.
    – ForOU
    Nov 9, 2022 at 14:23

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