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More on "Of" (#7), by Dennis Oliver

 

Of is also commonly used in two very different ways
with numbers. One way shows part of a group:

one of my friends

two of their children

ten of the new students

about a hundred of the letters

nearly 1,000 of the citizens

When numbers are used with of in this way, notice that

1.  

the meaning refers to part of a group:

one of my friends = one from the total
number of my friends (I have more than
one friend).

ten of the new students = ten from the
total number of new students (There are
more than ten new students).

     
2.  

there is a determiner after of and before
the noun:

right:
one
of my (the, Bob's, etc.) friends

wrong:
one
of friends

right:
about a hundred
of the (my, the president's,
etc.) letters

wrong:
about a hundred
of letters

______________________________________________

 

In addition, of is also used in a very different way
with numbers:

hundreds of people

thousands of mosquitos

millions of dollars

billions of stars

etc.

This special use of of means 'several (number) (noun)':

hundreds of people = several hundred people (probably
300 or more people but fewer than 1,000 people)

thousands of mosquitos = several thousand mosquitos
(probably 3,000 or more mosquitos but definitely
fewer than 1,000 mosquitos)

 

Special Note:

Two related expressions are also used in the above way:

tens of _____ (probably thirty or more but definitely
fewer than 100)

scores of _____ (probably 60 or more but fewer
than 100)

( A score = 20.)

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