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I know that Longman dictionary gives "in" as a correct preposition to use after "trade". But I am confused by a number of examples from British corpus and Google Search where they say "trade of", such as "increasing number of local taxes on the trade of goods", and "these people enjoyed a peaceful existence, engaging in the trade of nuts, apples and rice with India".

Does it depend on the context?

The most important part of the question: I need to translate the qualifications that will be written on a diploma, bachelor of International grain trade. It seems to me that if I place "grain" after "trade" it sounds more profound. What preposition is better to use in this context? It is appropriate to say "international trade of grain"?

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    I hope someone can give this as a more authoritative answer, but as far as I can tell the difference is in the way the word "trade" is used. If "trade" is an ongoing situation, such as "an increase in the trade of textiles between the two countries", the preposition "to" tends to be used. If it is a specific action, such as "the two countries trade in textiles", the preposition "in" tends to be used. – Ray Butterworth Oct 3 '19 at 15:42
  • I think the difference in preposition depends on whether a trader is specified or not. If I say "My brother and I trade in grain" I and my brother are the traders so 'in' is appropriate. Similarly with "Britain and the US trade in grain". The traders are actively involved in trading. When the traders are not specified, such as when we refer to taxation or legislation, we tend to use 'of' as in "The Corn Laws placed restrictions on the trade of grain", or "The 20th century saw a great increase in the trade of grain throughout the world. – BoldBen Oct 4 '19 at 8:03
  • It's true that in is a correct preposition to use with trade. It's not true that it's the only correct preposition to use. If that's actually what Longman says (you haven't provided a quotation), then it's wrong. Which is correct is based on context and idiomatic use. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 6 '19 at 18:32
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The difference is that in "The two countries trade in textiles", trade is used as a verb, which as Longman says, uses "in" as its preposition.

And in the example "These people enjoyed a peaceful existence, engaging in the trade of nuts, apples and rice with India", trade is a noun that is modified by the phrase "of nuts, apples, and rice".

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(Based on BoldBen's and my own comments.)

There is an obvious rule that seems to apply:

  • If "trade" is used as a noun, it should be "trade of".
  • If "trade" is used as a verb, it should be "trade in".

E.g.

  • I am involved with the trade of stocks.
  • I trade in stocks.

So "international trade of grain" would be equivalent to "international grain trade".

(It's not obvious that it is a better phrase to use though.)

  • While you can't use of when trade is a verb, you can definitely use in when it's a noun, especially with stocks and commodities. E.g., "Trade in bitcoin rose by 50% over the past year." – Robusto Nov 3 '19 at 14:13

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