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What is the difference between "the whole of + noun" and "the whole + noun"?

They pretty much mean the same to me.

E.G.:

Original:

But, on St. Thomas’ view, my typing of this paper is simultaneous with the whole of eternity.

My edit:

But, on St. Thomas’ view, my typing of this paper is simultaneous with the whole eternity.

ps: The question aims to clarify the use of both with nouns that are not proper.

I am aware of "The whole of the US", etc.

THank you :)

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    I've fixed some issues with your example sentences. However, you should really write out the citation (author, title, etc.); what if the linked page disappears or moves to a new URL? Nov 17, 2022 at 3:05
  • Next time I'll do my best to link. It happens I use Lengusa/Ludwing, and most times I can only provide a URL. Thanks, anyway. Nov 17, 2022 at 3:18
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    I think the whole X is mainly used with countable nouns - I ate the whole orange - I spent the whole day cleaning the house. Eternity is a concept rather than a countable thing. Nov 17, 2022 at 9:40

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'Whole' can be a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.

For example:

  • A whole orange (adjective, describing the orange as being completely intact)
  • The whole of the orange (noun, meaning all of something).

See Cambridge Dictionary entries for more examples in line with this.

'Whole eternity' would be using the word as an adjective, and unfortunately, it isn't idiomatic. Eternity already means 'all of time', so it doesn't need an adjective to describe it any further - that would be like saying "everlasting forever". But "the whole of eternity" is idiomatic, as is "the rest of eternity", as they mean the remainder of eternity.

Having said that, although there is technically only one, all-encompassing 'eternity', we sometimes speak of "an eternity" (eg 'it feels like an eternity') to mean a very long period of time, or perhaps to describe eternity from a personal perspective. A quick Google shows quite a few uses of "a whole eternity".

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