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You use 'of' to combine two nouns when the first noun identifies the feature of the second noun that you want to talk about.

I am not sure what "I" want to talk about in the sentence.

Talking about "the feature" or talking about "the second noun"?

  • Honestly, the sentence would be perfectly fine without the word "that" between "noun" and "you". – Catija Oct 30 '15 at 6:38
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    I think "the second noun that you want to talk about" must be seen as a whole phrase. – Cardinal Oct 30 '15 at 6:43
  • Exactly. @Cardinal I parsed for the op that way. – Maulik V Oct 30 '15 at 6:44
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In such case, take an example.

color of an elephant

Two nouns - color and elephant. The first noun 'color' identifies the feature of the second noun 'elephant'.

Now go back to the sentence in concern: Read it this way-

You use 'of' to combine two nouns when the first noun identifies the feature of [the second noun that you want to talk about].

So, to answer, here, you want to talk about 'the elephant' here.

  • Thanks for your excellent answer! I got it now, but I got another question again.what could I say if I want to make "that" refer to the first noun. E.g.,"the color that we talk about of an elephant".I am not sure if the sentence I made is correct or not. – Tim Oct 30 '15 at 8:12
  • Yes, placing 'that' in that way will talk about the color. – Maulik V Oct 30 '15 at 8:47
  • This is wrong - it's the color that you want to talk about - "...the first noun identifies the feature [...] that you want to talk about". Otherwise you can't have "the feature", because there's nothing to make it definite. – psmears Jun 26 '17 at 14:15

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