Is it alright to omit "of" in the sentence below? There are two "of", and I mean either of them.

The survey has a margin of error of 2.5%.

Thank you.


In my opinion, neither of the 'of' cannot be omitted, because an action such as that would change the meaning of the sentence or even make it meaningless.

The survey has a margin of error of 2.5%

This means that the survey, however accurate it maybe, can have an error of 2.5% in it. Omitting the first 'of' will convert the sentence into :

The survey has a margin error of 2.5%.

This makes no sense as "margin error" is something that doesn't make sense. It is the survey that can have errors, and not the margin itself.

Omitting the second 'of' would give the sentence a structure like:

The survey has a margin of error 2.5%.

"..error 2.5%" makes no sense at all. What is "error 2.5%" ? I've heard of "Error 404", but never an "error 2.5%". So the meaning plainly becomes meaningless.

Additionally, the sentence could be rephrased without changing its meaning as:

The survey has a marginal error of 2.5%.

But, this is something that could be interpreted in a different way too. My suggestion would be not to omit any of the 'of' in the sentence.

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    Wow, what an elaborate answer! Thank you very much. It was extremely helpful. – Smart Humanism Feb 1 '16 at 17:18


  • Margin of error is a well-known phrase and will sound bad if you change it.

  • Margin error and margin of error are not quite equivalent in meaning. Margin means "extra space at the top or side" - margin of error means there's "extra space" for an error, whereas margin error would mean the extra space itself has an error.

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  • From your answer, I got to know "margin error" makes itself equivalent to "error of margin" which is totally different from "margin of error". Thank you for the answer. It was helpful. – Smart Humanism Feb 1 '16 at 16:53

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