Listen to all your fans
Name all the states


Listen to all of  your fans
Name all of  the states

What part of language is of  in these examples? Is it necessary or optional, correct or incorrect?

  • 2
    When a pronoun follows "all", I think all us would agree that the "of" is needed. Sep 2 '12 at 21:12
  • 3
    @PeterShor Be careful with that. A lot of people can’t tell the difference between a personal pronoun and a personal adjective, and you don’t need an of in phrases like “all my children”, which uses a personal adjective.
    – tchrist
    Sep 2 '12 at 21:17
  • 3
    @PeterShor: All we like sheep have gone astray. Sep 2 '12 at 21:47
  • 2
    Related: “All our X” vs. “all of our X”.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 2 '12 at 22:11
  • 1
    All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 9 '15 at 23:58

Of is just a preposition used to say what group or whole includes the part denoted by the preceding word:

Example: most of/ one of/ several of my friends etc.

In the case of all, half, and both; of is optional and you can either omit it or keep it.

But you can't leave out of before the pronouns us, you, them, and it *.

*You don't need to worry about this with "both" because you're not going to say "both of it" anyway.

  • no explanation at all!
    – Louis Liu
    Apr 7 '18 at 1:56
  • 2
    The answer is not complete. "Of" is usually not used before a noun with no determiner. E.g. "All of the children can be difficult", but "all children can be difficult", not "all of children can be difficult". See the answer by @nicholas ainsworth. Mar 17 '19 at 12:38
  • You wrote: "But you can't leave out of before the pronouns us, you, them, and it". What about "its"? For example, is "The folder will be deleted with all its files" allowed? Or does it have to be: "The folder will be deleted with all of its files"? The latter sounds better to me, but is the former also allowed?
    – obe
    Feb 14 '20 at 15:40

Michael Swan says in his book *Practical English Usage:

1> All and *All of**

All (of) can modify nouns and pronouns.

Before a noun with a determiner (for example the, my, this), all and all of are both possible. American English usually has all of.

She's eaten all (of) the cake. All (of) my friends like riding.

Before a noun with no determiner, we do not usually use of.

All children can be difficult. (Not: All of children can be difficult)

  • Also, we have to use "all of" instead of "all" before a pronoun that goes with it (we can say "all of them," but not "all them").
    – herisson
    Jan 3 '16 at 3:27
  • 1
    @sumelic - And of course there's Why Not Take All Me.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 7 '18 at 1:55
  • not satisfactory an explanation
    – Louis Liu
    Apr 7 '18 at 1:55
  • @Louis Liu OP asks for guidance on acceptable usage, not an explanation as to why acceptable usage is the way it is. That would probably require a doctoral thesis. Jul 9 at 11:18

No answer above is satisfactory.

I have answered this question in "All our X" vs. "all of our X", but let me rephrase here.

Listen to all of your fans
Listen to all your fans

"All of your fans" and "all your fans" are both correct. They are different in that in the first sentence, "all" is a pronoun, while in the second, "all" is a predeterminer that comes before the determiner "your", helping to further specify the noun "fans".

You may wonder the difference in the usage. A linguist explained, "[...]the variant without “of” is significantly more common than the variant with “of”, to such a degree that the variant with “of” might be considered unnatural (or colloquial) by some native speakers in certain contexts. My advice is: If in doubt, do not use “of” between “all” and another determiner." (https://jakubmarian.com/is-it-all-the-or-all-of-the-in-english/)

He explains better than Michael Swan.


Of can generally be omitted in most cases or reworded to avoid.

For "all of", you could easily replace it with "every" or "each"

In the two examples you gave, the expression could be eliminated entirely with no loss of meaning.

Listen to your fans.

Name the states.

are both clear without adding "all of" or "all"

Whenever I am writing, and I see the word "of" I stop to consider if it can be worded better.

  • I would interpret "listen to all your fans" as a request to listen to the collective sound of the fans, and "listen to all of your fans" as a request to listen to each fan individually.
    – supercat
    Aug 14 '14 at 20:03
  • I would say each would be used to mean the latter, and either version of all would be the former
    – CobaltHex
    Dec 8 '15 at 1:24
  • The question asks for an explanation of the grammar of "all (of)," not for tips on how to avoid using it.
    – herisson
    Jan 3 '16 at 3:29

A very common use of "all of" is when conveying the size of a specific portion - "all of" the cake, "all of" the audience, "all of" the delegates, "all of" the money. MS grammar-check continually suggests changing this to "all"... which I suggest is patently wrong. When dealing with portions, "of" is essential - "none of", "some of", "most of", "all of". You would never say, "None the money" or, "Some the audience". This is quite different to "Some/all children are difficult" (general group/every child) - it's when you are referring to a specific group... "Some of/all of the children are difficult" (example: the children in this classroom). As for examples from literature or famous speeches where "All my friends" and the like are quoted - well, just because someone has written it in the past, does that make it grammatically correct?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jan 28 '18 at 23:12

I think there is grammar and there is style which seeks to convey meaning. If it's not wrong grammatically, then it is a matter of what style or form of words communicates your meaning most effectively. Let's not confuse these two; something which the latest grammar checking routine in Word is now doing and what sent me here. I think that the phrases "Listen to your fans", "Listen to all of your fans", "Listen to each one of your fans" do not say the same thing and all are grammatically correct. They would be used in different contexts to convey different meanings. I wish I could turn of the stupid style suggestions that are now rampant in Word and have it just highlight incorrect grammar.

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