Consider three different uncontroversial functional categories of of PP complements.

1. Privative function

  • ...of African slave-traders despoiled of their prey and thirsting for blood.
  • The court stated that " a child injured by the negligence of another person is not barred of his remedy by the mere fact that the negligence of his parents contributed to produce the injury.
  • The boy, his ruddy cheeks blanched of color...

2. Stimulus function

  • We had been to enough cotillions to be bored of the rituals.
  • but I froze, suddenly terrified of getting cornered in the bathroom,...

3. Malefactor function

  • The young woman who had carried him in her body had soon perished of a fever...
  • It received its name when Aillenn, a daughter of Lugaid, king of Leinster and (in one version) also father of Tea, was abducted and died of shame at her captivity.

Then there is another type of usage which is not very frequent, but still attested, where an of complement accompanies a psych verb denoting a stimulus. Prominent commentators on this site have said of this type of construction (with the predicate be distressed), that "...it's an error only a non-native speaker would or could ever make..." Judge for yourself the grammaticality of the following examples, from COCA:

  • and in it Maria Montes is quoted of saying, I am so beautiful...
  • Barnett, 1989, especially lamented of this problem, observing,...
  • I'm personally a little alarmed of having the Eric Massa vision of Rahm naked in the shower without a " towel for his tush. "
  • He did say he wanted to go. He's obviously upset of not being able to go. But I repeated to say that he understands the reasoning behind it and he will continue to be in the army, having said in the past that if didn't go he might well resign, pronto.

If you can find yourself accepting that any of these sentences would be uttered by a competent English speaker, would you consider the of complement to be carrying out any of the 3 above-listed functions?

  • 1
    I don't recognise any of this Privative/Stimulus/Malefactor function terminology, and it doesn't seem as though Google does either. Could you perhaps explain in plain English what these three functions are? btw - I find none of your last four examples felicitous. Jan 26, 2013 at 2:15
  • ...in those last four, I would replace of with as, [nothing], at, and at respectively, as I'm sure would most native speakers. Jan 26, 2013 at 2:20
  • @FumbleFingers stimulus is encountered commonly enough in literature on argument realization; the other two are nonce terms for the two narrowly-defined thematic roles i wanted to draw attention to, so you wouldn't find them in the sense i intended by googling.
    – user31341
    Jan 26, 2013 at 2:29
  • I'm afraid that doesn't enlighten me much. Since I don't understand much of the question, I won't post an answer. But I will point out that Google Books has only one instance of lamented of the situation, as against 3690 without "of". I would expect similar ratios if I check for your other examples. Jan 26, 2013 at 2:37
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    I agree with FumbleFingers's recommended replacements for (or in one case, omission of) "of" in the final four examples of this lengthy question. In addition, I would change the "of" in the "Stimulus function" examples to "by" (in the cotillion example) and to "at the prospect of" (in the bathroom example). Fundamentally, though, I don't understand the relevance of the categories "Privation," "Stimulus," and "Malefactor" to the choice of a suitable preposition in each concrete instance.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 26, 2013 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


Those four quotations seem to illustrate untypical uses. The OED has no citations showing upset of used in that way, and none at all for quoted of. There is only one, from 1591, for lamented of (‘Your deceased Vnckle, . . . was lamented of most’), and only one, from Richard Steele in 1711 for alarmed of (‘Before Brunetta could be alarmed of their Arrival’). A search of the British National Corpus has proved even less fruitful.

Given the apparent paucity of these usages, it hardly seems necessary to dignify them with any particular name.

  • I can't find that 1591 citation for lamented of, but it looks to me like a different sense to OP's ("by" rather than "about/the fact of"). My feeling is that OP's examples are rare modern "misuses" stemming from the fact that of is becoming an increasingly popular "general-purpose" preposition. It's successively overtaken by with frightened, terrified, and now bored, for example. We manage to pronounce ossification, and -ificfation is definitely a productive suffix, so maybe we could get our heads (and tongues! :) around ofification! Jan 26, 2013 at 22:41
  • @FumbleFingers. Yes, it is, and I didn’t intend to give the impression that it had the same meaning, just that it was rare, even with a different meaning. Bored of does seem to be becoming more popular, but it has a long way to go before it reigns supreme. There are 10 records for bored of in the BNC, against 243 for bored with and 69 for bored by. The figures in the COCA are 59, 717 and 205. But corpora are out of date by the time they’re compiled, and may not represent the state of affairs on 27 January 2013. Jan 27, 2013 at 8:15
  • Per my answer on the related question, hits for bored of on Google "Internet" now outnumber the combined totals for by/with, even though hits on Google Books are much closer to BNC/COCA. Obviously that's partly a matter of of GI being more up-to-date than these corpora, but it's bound to be the case that stuff typed in to the Internet at large reflects informal speech more closely than printed & published material. Jan 27, 2013 at 15:57
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers. And I expect you've heard of the Tolkien parody 'Bored of the Rings'. Jan 27, 2013 at 16:02

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