Is the word "of" optional in this instance? Is either of these considered preferable to the other?

  • Taste all our delicious treats.
  • Taste all of our delicious treats.

5 Answers 5


Both sentences are grammatical.

See the following NGRAM (all our, all of our):

Google NGram showing 'all our' decreasing in usage from approximately 0.0035% in 1800 to 0.00075% in 2000 and 'all of our' slightly increasing from 0% in 1800 to 0.00025% in 2000.

It would seem that the use of "all of our" is growing nowadays.

Also, "all of our" ("all of our delicious") gets 18,200,000 (745) hits on Google Book, while "all our" ("all our delicious") gets 26,500,000 (4,240) hits.

  • That's for written language only, of course. In spoken English these are just two points on a long range of possible pronunciations of that particular quantifier phrase. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 15:33
  • 1
    Nice work, Carlo. Personally I would write "Taste our delicious treats". In copywriting, which this is, you want to be as concise as possible. Also, "taste all our delicious treats" carries the unwanted connotation of demanding that the customer taste them all. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 15:37
  • @EugeneSeidel - Wouldn't it more correct to write "...you should be as concise as possible" rather than "...you want to be as concise as possible?"
    – user19148
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 16:16
  • 1
    @TecBrat I don’t see that this answer actually answers the question. It doesn’t say which is preferable, or why.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 17:46
  • 7
    Of course, it goes without saying that X should be plural, unless it is "base".
    – Random832
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:42

If you go back a century or so, "all of" would be very rare indeed. The fact that it occurs a bit more often nowadays is no real reason for using it - it's still far more common not to use "of" after "all".

Having said that, in OP's context either form is acceptable. For reasons that aren't clear to me, it seems that "of" is actually required when followed by a pronoun...

You took the part that once was my heart. Why not take all of me?

My father won eight thousand dollars the night before, but lost all of it last night.

I can't think of any similar context where including the preposition is "unacceptable", though it would certainly be stylistically clumsy to overdo it...

"You can fool all [of] the people some of the time, and some of the people all [of] the time, but you cannot fool all [of] the people all [of] the time." (attrib. Abraham Lincoln, among others).

Idiomatically, all is slippery. You can take all of me/it/us/them, and you can take it/us/them all, but you can't take me/him/her all. That's not because those pronouns are singular (take it all is unremarkable) - it's just a matter of idiomatic usage.

  • 1
    Nice job, but two minor points. I disagree with your last sentence: Take me all sounds just as strange as take all me, probably because of the semantics. And your first example is misleading; in lyrics, scansion is more important than fine points of grammar. Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 22:16
  • 1
    Idiomatic usage is slippery in general.  I suggest that there is a rule that ‘‘of’’ is required for singular objects (e.g., He ate all of the sandwich.) and optional for plural and non-count (e.g., He ate all the apples. He ate all the cheese.), and that ‘‘it’’ is the exception to the rule.  Note that ‘‘Ate all it’’ is wrong (to my ear, at least), while I agree that ‘‘Ate it all’’ is acceptable. Commented May 23, 2018 at 17:13

Even though both versions scan as natural English, a copyeditor will always reduce “some/most/many/all/several/few/one/… of the” to remove the of the part. It’s just extraneous baggage. You don’t need it to create a partitive sense in English.

Even here in your example where the determininer is a possessive adjective instead of definite article, one can often reduce it — and should do so. You certainly don’t need the of portion. Your phrase is better without it.

One general guideline is that whenever you can remove a word without changing the sentence’s meaning, that you should do so to tighten the phrasing.

  • 2
    That copyeditor's rule doesn't work all [of] the time - some of the time he'll need to be more flexible. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 17:54
  • @FumbleFingers That’s why it’s only a general guideline, not a rule. In your second example, though, I’d s/some of the time/sometimes/ myself.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 17:56
  • Yeah - we'd all usually go for sometimes given a free choice. But in my "contrastive" construction I think the balance is tipped by the fact that we can't speak of rules that work alltimes (even if they actually do! :) Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:19
  • @FumbleFingers You’re right that sometimes the “all of the” should go to “all the” instead of just to “all”. I don’t think it often needs to keep both words, though. Do you? I think people have begun to stick in the “of” to make it some sort of partitive, and I don’t think they usually need to do that in English.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:24
  • 1
    Whilst I agree "less is more" is a good default starting position on such issues, I'm mindful that you and I (and many others here on ELU) may be tempted to take that position to extremes. What works for computer languages might not always be best for people. Also, as per my own answer, the fact remains that "of" seems to be always at least valid, and sometimes actually required. Not that I'm seriously advocating using it all of the time, but you must admit it would represent consistency - which is much to be sought after, surely! Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 23:44

Allow me to further explain the grammar in these sentences.

  1. Taste all our delicious treats.
  2. Taste all of our delicious treats.

In 1, "all our delicious treats", "all" is a predeterminer, because "our" is a determiner. A determiner is used before a noun, while a predeterminer is used before a determiner to further specify the noun phrase "delicious treats" in this case.

In 2, "all of our delicious treats", "all" is a pronoun.

The use of "all" as a determiner, a predeterminer, or a pronoun is explained here with more examples: https://jakubmarian.com/is-it-all-the-or-all-of-the-in-english/

  • Since the corresponding French for both variants is 'Tous/Toutes nos ...' I'd say it makes more sense to see 'all of' as a compound predeterminer here. 'A dozen of ...' is a compound numeral-substitute, 'a third of / 33% of' a partitive, and 'a majority of' a compound quantifier. Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 11:27

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English

Although some object to the inclusion of of in such phrases as all of the students and all of the contracts and prefer to omit it, the construction is entirely standard.

OED reads (here's the index for the website; if somebody needs to use the cdrom, PM me)

OF: XII. Indicating a quality or other distinguishing mark by which a person or thing is characterized. (For OE. genitive; F. de; = genitive of quality or description.)

b. qualified by all, indicating (temporary) condition:

  • 1849 Thackeray Pendennis xvi, ‘Do you say so?’ Smirke said, all of a tremble

ALL: A. adj. II. absol.

  1. Followed by of: in sing. The entire amount, every part, the whole; in pl. Every individual, all the members or examples. (This const. is comparatively modern, and is probably due to form-assoc. with none of, some of, little of, much of, few of, many of.) Rare, exc. with pronouns, as all of it, of whom, of which, of them. Also, as much as, altogether, quite; for all of (cf. for prep. 26b) U.S., as far as concerns (a person or thing). [See pronominal examples under 2c.]

However, I do not know the reasons behind such objection. There must be some grammar involved though: first the common definite article the in both, and second students/contracts are plural and countable.

  • all of "Not more than": a conversation that took all of five minutes
    – GJC
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 20:06

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