I came across the sentence "A bird came flying that was of pure gold." I heard that "linking verb + of " become adjective. Is this right?

And is "of" necessary for this sentence? I think the word "gold" is adjective, so "A bird that was pure gold came flying" is better, isn't it? Does this "of" and structure have special meaning for this sentence?

  • "bird of pure gold" focuses on the substance gold in a way that adjective gold in "gold bird" does not. In this pattern, we can also use the superlative: A fine silk dress. A dress of the finest silk.
    – TimR
    Mar 26, 2016 at 10:21
  • 1
    A bird was of pure gold = a bird was (a bird) of pure gold. Mar 27, 2016 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


I suppose in this sentence 'of' just helps clarify reference to the bird [being pure gold] rather than 'flying' (even though this wouldn't make logical sense anyway).

This could also be written: A bird, of pure gold, came flying.
A bird, that was (of) pure gold, came flying.
A pure gold bird came flying.


"Of" in this sense implies "made of", as in "the table is made of wood". Obviously, the bird is not really made of gold, it's just a figure of speech. This style of writing is used in poetry, where the normal rules of logic are somewhat relaxed.

In normal usage, one would use the adjective "golden", which usually means "gold coloured or shining", but can also mean "made of gold".

A golden bird came flying into my garden this morning.

It's not quite so poetic, but it's easier to understand.


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