Careful how you use the word “of” (part 1)

I find that non-native English speakers tend to use the word “of” much too often. “Of” is also frequently used incorrectly instead of other prepositions.

The next few posts will look at issues related to using “of”.

of and ’s

Non-native English speakers tend to write, for example, the attorney of the claimant where native speakers would write the claimant’s attorney. Although both structures are grammatically correct, phrases like the attorney of the claimant increase the “wordiness” and complexity of a sentence and make your writing more difficult to read. Look at this example:

BAD STYLE
Please find attached the decision of the regulatory authority concerning the application of the Company to establish the manufacturing plant of the Company in the Katowice Special Economic Zone.

This kind of sentence is really just lazy translation. A native English speaker would write the following:

GOOD STYLE
Please find attached the regulatory authority’s decision concerning the Company’s application to establish its manufacturing plant in the Katowice Special Economic Zone.

Making this type of correction must be the single most common change that I make when I proofread documents.

Here are some other common examples:

BAD STYLE                                                                GOOD STYLE
the website of the Company                              => the Company’s website
the approval of the Management Board         => the Management Board’s approval
the report of the expert                                      => the expert’s report
the consent of the Meeting of Shareholders   => the consent of the Shareholders’ Meeting

But remember to avoid phrases like this: the Shareholders’ Meeting’s consent. This is just as bad as the consent of the Meeting of Shareholders.

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