Do you know when to use the preposition “of” and when to use the preposition “from” in English? Using the wrong preposition is a very common mistake for English learners. Many other languages have just one word for both “of” and “from,” but in English we use these two words in different ways.
These prepositions are so common that it’s impossible to cover ALL their uses in this short lesson, but today I’m going to explain the basic differences and the most common ways to use them.
We often use of when talking about possession by inanimate objects (meaning something belongs to the object):
- the color of the sky
- the name of the movie
- the handle of the suitcase
Note: when talking about possession by people, animals, or groups, we usually use ‘s instead:
- the husband of my friend
- my friend’s husband
- the cat’s claws
- the company’s policy
Of is also used for physical surfaces, with the words top/bottom/side/inside/outside:
- the top/bottom of the shoe
- the side of the car
- the inside of the jacket
- the outside of the box
Of is used with the quantity expressions all of, most/many of, both of, a few of, one of, none of:
- All of the students passed the test.
- I spend most of my time studying.
- Both of my parents are lawyers.
- He lent me a few of his books.
- One of my friends had a baby.
- None of these bananas are ripe.
Finally, we use of after some specific adjectives and verbs. There is no rule here – you just need to remember each one. Here are a few examples (not a complete list):
- I’m afraid of spiders.
- She’s capable of succeeding.
- Are you aware of the problem?
- I’m proud of you for trying your best.
- We’re tired of traveling.
- He accused me of lying.
- That song reminds me of my grandmother.
- What do you think of the proposal?
From is used to talk about origins, sources, and starting points:
- I’m from the U.S.
- This scene is from an old movie.
- I borrowed a book from the library.
- We just got home from work.
We also use from… to/till/until to describe starting and ending times:
- I lived in Brazil from 2009 to 2016.
- I’ll be out of the office from Wednesday until Friday.
From can be used to talk about distance:
- We live ten miles from the beach.
- The closet is three feet away from the desk.
From is sometimes used to express a reason:
- He died from dehydration.
- I’m sore from the workout I did yesterday.
From is also used after specific adjectives and verbs – again, there’s no rule; you need to learn these individually.
- College is very different from high school.
- He discouraged me from quitting my job.
- Seat belts can prevent you from getting injured in a car crash.
- The burglar alarm protects our house from break-ins.
MADE OF / MADE FROM
In general, we use made of when talking about the basic material of something:
- This table is made of wood.
- These earrings are made of silver.
- My shirt is made of cotton.
We use made from when there has been a transformation in the process of making the object:
- Wine is made from grapes.
- That new medicine was made from plant extracts.
- Paper is made from trees.