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Do we need preposition "of" after a year?

Freud is a visitor at James’s Sussex residence, Lamb House, in the year 1908

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I'd be more terse: "in 1908" – John Jan 14 '11 at 19:12
@John: I do not think terseness to the point of excising the year is called for, or even stylistically appropriate, within the context of this sentence. – Jimi Oke Jan 14 '11 at 19:42
I think you only need to say "the year" when there is a possibility that the reader will think the number refers to something else. Like if you said, "George visited Jane in her appartment in 1998", 1998 may be the year or it might be the apartment number. People also tend to say "the year two thousand" because "two thousand" doesn't sound like a year to our ears, used to "nineteen-something" or "twenty-something". Similarly for years long ago, like 425, the reader may hesitate a moment before realizing that's a year. – Jay Mar 30 '12 at 14:03
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's technically acceptable either way, but the preferred use is "in the year 1908". The word 'of' is used to indicate derivation, origin, or source, and it's obvious in this sentence which year is being referenced. If you're a fan of economy of langauge, you can even omit "the year" to produce a less-antiquated form of speaking:

Freud is a visitor at James's Sussex residence, Lamb House, in 1908.

(Again, it's not only obvious but assumed that you're talking about the year 1908 AD)

Question...are you quoting something or did you write that sentence? If you wrote it, consider that "Freud is..." probably should be changed to "Freud was...".

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It's implied based on the nobles mentioned. – Anderson Silva Jan 14 '11 at 14:16
I recommend "in the year 1908" then. It's hard to argue in any case that the year belonged to or derived from "1908", which would warrant the use of the word "of". AKA "Freud is a visitor at James's Sussex residence, Lamb House, in the land of ZOMBIES" would properly imply that the land was owned by or populated by zombies. – rownage Jan 14 '11 at 14:19
@Anderson I don't quite understand what you mean with "implied"? And who are the nobles? Freud wasn't. And even if I write about the Queen or the Prince of Wales, I don't have to use a certain kind of speech. Now, if your story/novel is using that style, then sure, but then that is the reason, and not the personages. – Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 14 '11 at 14:28
re your comment, ‘of’ does get used for names as well as for possession/derivation, for example “the state of California”, “the land of Mordor”. – PLL Jan 14 '11 at 17:35
PLL is right as well. I was going to use "Land of the Lost" as an example but I ended up confusing myself. :( – rownage Jan 14 '11 at 18:13

When giving the year by its date, “of” should be omitted:

George Washington was born in the year 1732.

is correct; ‘the year of 1732’ is unusual in modern usage, and I think in most historical usage too. Use of ‘the year’ is also optional here: in modern usage, ‘…in 1732’ would be more common, but ‘the year’ adds emphasis and formality; in historical usage ‘…the year 1732’ was more standard.

On the other hand, if specifying the year by an event, then ‘of’ is correct:

In the year of George Washington’s birth, the King of England was George II.

(Of course, you could also phrase this as “In the year when George Washington was born, …” or similar.)

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This usage of "of" almost sounds like an error rooted in the historical usage: "...in the year of our Lord 1732..." However, that was never common usage - only literary usage, right? – Mei Jan 14 '11 at 17:36
Hmmm… that sounds plausible, but begs the question of when calendar years became common usage at all, as opposed to just the provenance of the literate elite! Sadly Wikipedia doesn’t seem to answer this question, as far as I can find; any social historians around know the answer? – PLL Jan 14 '11 at 17:53

John's response is best. In fact, the principle of concision can also be applied to the main verb: "Freud visits James’s Sussex residence, Lamb House, in 1908." This version assumes that the present tense is contextually appropriate.

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