Re: On the use of preposition "of" in chemical texts
- I would like to ask especially the native English listmates for help in the following matter. Please read the following two sentences:
"An unknown compound decomposes to produce 0.800 g of solid sulfur and 0.560 of hydrogen gas." (I)
"When 10.3 g of a particular sample of freon is decomposed, it produces 2.24 dm^3 chlorine gas, 1.12 dm^3 hydrogen gas, and 1.12 dm^3 fluorine gas". (II)
Both sentences are in a textbook of chemistry for US high schools.
In my opinion, both sentences actually describe the same from the point of view of chemistry and grammar. However, in (I) there is "0.800 g O F solid sulfur" and "0.560 O F hydrogen gas", while in (II) there is " 2.24 dm^3 chlorine gas" and " 1.12 dm^3 hydrogen gas", etc.
What's the difference between these two sentences from the point of view of using the "of" preposition? Is it really the same if one says "Weigh 1 kg of gold" or "Weigh 1 kg gold?"
Thanks to all who will help me to understand.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- << What's the difference between these two sentences from the point of
view of using the "of" preposition? Is it really the same if one says
"Weigh 1 kg of gold" or "Weigh 1 kg gold?" >>
IMO (only my opinion), the difference is that the second sentence would
have been less subject to possible criticism had it used the "of." My
guess would be that it would also be stylistically more consistent with
the majority of uses in the textbook. As you have the entire textbook,
you could quickly see whether it has a majority and minority usage. My
guess would be that you'd find 5 to 10 times as many like the former as
you would find like the latter.
The sentence without "of" doesn't shock -- at least not in this limited
"set problem" context where shorthand is common and there's a list of
three elements in parallel format, that could be put into a table -- but
it's better practice to put the "of" in -- and my guess (without a
behavioral study in reading to back it up) is that most readers, well,
at least many readers, would put the "of" in when reading aloud. The
language for setting textbook problems is perhaps a bit specialized.
So it's "really the same" in terms of referent and meaning; but it's not
"really the same" in terms of preferred style (IMO), and I'd hesitate to
draw any lessons about linguistic use outside the limited domain of
textbook chemistry or physics and cookbook recipes. No editor whom I
know would ever criticize the first sentence and make the writer take
out the "of"; many editors might well criticize the second and make the
writer add the "of" (though other editors might shrug), at least in this
specific context of a chemistry text, and multiple products being listed
in what can be felt as a kind of mini-table without the tabular layout.
A Google search finds the following numbers, which may be a rough guide
to proportional use:
"grams chlorine" 9
"grams of chlorine" 247
"grams hydrogen" 53
"grams of hydrogen" 808
"milligrams gold" 47
"milligrams of gold" 211
"milliliters water" 137
"milliliters of water" 1980
These rough indicators might be further refined after examination of
their contexts and sources; but at a first glance they seem reasonable
Not sure whether this is the kind of comment you were looking for. I
guess I'd sum up by saying "not really different" in terms of how you
should put them into Czech (i.e., there's no subtle meaning difference
to be reflected); but that "of" is better (at least in the sense of
being unexceptional) if you want to know how you'd be best advised to go
in the other direction, Cz>Eng, in case that ever arises.
- Hi Dusan,
> "An unknown compound decomposes to produce 0.800 g of solidWell, it's seven years since I last worked as a chemist (apart from the
> sulfur and 0.560 of hydrogen gas." (I)
> "When 10.3 g of a particular sample of freon is decomposed, it
> produces 2.24 dm^3 chlorine gas, 1.12 dm^3 hydrogen gas, and 1.12
> dm^3 fluorine gas". (II)
> What's the difference between these two sentences from the point
> of view of using the "of" preposition? Is it really the same if
> one says "Weigh 1 kg of gold" or "Weigh 1 kg gold?"
occasional chemical translating job), but I would say that the 'of' is
optional in this context, that there is no difference in the meaning, and
that both options are widely used. Purists might say that sentence I is more
grammatical, whereas pragmatists might prefer sentence II (especially if you
have a list of several compounds - on the grounds of ellipsis). I also have
a feeling that preferences might differ in BrE and AmE, for example. I'm
British, and sentence I sounds a little more natural to me. But maybe the
Americans (and others) on the list have a different opinion.