1

Consider the following quotes (emphasis mine).

For a split second, I meet eyes with an older man standing in a still gaze just opposite of me amidst the sudden chaos. source

Taking a seat on a stool just opposite of me, he gives me a huge smile. source

Guards stood at my door and one sat just opposite of me, his eyes never leaving my face. source (see page 39)

I was surprised when I caught sight of Alex, who was waiting just opposite of the bathrooms. source

They were standing just opposite of the road and looked hungry, so we picked some of the grass that was just out of their reach and feed them. source

There were two groups of people standing just opposite of each other. source

These quotes are all using opposite of to mean "across from" or "opposite". Are these uses acceptable in formal English writing? Or do they imply a less formal register, i.e. are these meant to merely be reproductions of casual speech?

Please also consider this NGram: source

5
  • 1
    I have not looked at all the links, but I would not use 'of' in any of the examples 1 to 6. I talk about 'the person who lives opposite me', but then I am British.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 18:38
  • Aren't you confusing the construction 'cruel is the opposite of kind' with the prepositional phrase headed by opposite ('the cafe is opposite the library')? There are some compound prepositions ('Jane looked out of the window', BrE especially; 'I don't have any pets, outside of a couple of tarantulas'). Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 20:33
  • FF shows that this use is obscure in written English. While it may be more common in spoken English, asking whether it sounds/feels right is probably too subjective for ELU. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 23:30
  • @Bradd: That specific aspect of the question is effectively POB, but I disagree with the closevote (yours?) because I think there's an interesting backstory concerning the way the literal and figurative usages both started by using to, and have now diverged into one prepositionless and the other using of. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 0:01
  • 1
    That's cool. It was a very borderline close vote for me. Probably wouldn't have even occurred to me except that I had just seen another question which is more blatantly POB in this way. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 0:04

1 Answer 1

3

I would say opposite of me is just plain wrong. It has virtually no currency...

(If you click on the chart itself, you'll see that opposite of me doesn't occur enough to graph.)


I can only assume OP's citations involve people who are conflating two different usages...

Jack Sprat sat opposite his wife...

He is opposite her (because he's on the other side of the table)
He is the opposite of her (because he will eat no fat, whereas she will eat no lean)


Centuries ago, both these senses were actually more likely to be expressed using the preposition to. This NGram shows how to has simply been discarded for OP's sense of facing, on the other side, and this one shows how it's been replaced by of for the more figurative complete contrast sense.

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  • Really? Then, you might just want to consider this other chart: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Elian
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 22:54
  • 1
    @Nourished: Gimmie a break! You compared several unrelated text strings there, in such a way as to make sat opposite you appear to come at the bottom of a league table with sat opposite of on the top. If you compare like with like it's still the same as I've shown above - sat opposite of you is too uncommon to even chart against sat opposite you. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 23:02
  • I didn't mean to be aggravating, FumbleFingers, I just wanted to demonstrate that "opposite of" does have some frequency (n AE at least), though admittedly to a less significant degree than "opposite". However, unlike you, I wouldn't say it's wrong, as long as some apparently articulate writers seem to prefer it to the standard, more common term.
    – Elian
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 0:36
  • @Nourished: I'm not going to go through them all with a fine toothcomb. But in the first of your links I found this just three sentences above your citation: I look back to find a frenzy of movement – a panic-filled mad dash toward me and fast. That's cut&pasted, so [sic]. I don't even think I can excuse that as any kind of typo - it's either a careless writer or not a very articulate one. And just glancing at the final paragraph, it really is nothing more than so much drivel. If you're happy with it then fine. I wouldn't give the guy a job requiring competence in writing. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 2:14
  • Seems like you feign to not understand, FumbleFingers. I was not referring to the writers found through the links in the OP, but to those associated with my previous Ngram. That said, all of my examples in the OP come from native speakers that sound literate and fluent enough in their own language to be worth quoting...
    – Elian
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 10:33

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