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Consider the sentence: What is the most common type tree in South Carolina forests?

Is this correct or should it be: What is the most common type OF tree in South Carolina forests?

It feels like this is in direct relation to the word "type" as phrases like "What size skirt" or "What color dog" sound correct where as "What type tree" does not.

  • When you put it in juxtaposition with questions like "What color dog", it's comprehensible. But that way lies buffalo. – Lawrence Nov 8 '19 at 14:00
  • "Of" might be omitted in informal speech, but it's not strictly "correct". – Hot Licks Dec 8 '19 at 14:04
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It should be

What is the most common type OF tree in South Carolina forests?

It is not only the word 'type'. You would also say 'What breed of dog?'.

It seems that size and colour are nouns which refer to a set of adjective possibilities (large, small, red, blue), so the 'of' is omitted because 'what size' and 'what colour' ask the question about an adjective.

'What breed' and 'what type' ask the question of a noun (the type or the breed), so require an 'of'.

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    You could also just say 'tree type' or 'dog breed'. – Smock Nov 8 '19 at 13:39
  • But "What height of [block is needed, etc]" is idiomatic (at least far more so than "What height + N"), and 'tall, short, dwarf ...' are available. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 8 '19 at 14:43

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