Archive for August 19, 2010

grammatical expression: of all (things), (people), (places)


There’s another very common short expression that native English speakers use a lot in conversation that I’d like to go over today: “of all”. It can be used in the following expressions: “of all things”, “of all people” and “of all places”. It is used to emphasize surprise or displeasure about certain things, people or places. For example:

I asked my girlfriend what she wanted to do on Saturday, and she chose to go skydiving of all things! I couldn’t believe it!

My husband gave me a present yesterday and, of all things, it was a kitten! I was so surprised!

A: Who did the boss give the promotion to?

B: It was Jack of all people! He’s only been with the company for six months! Everyone was surprised, including Jack.

I ran into someone at the supermarket yesterday and, of all people, it was my ex-boyfriend! It was very awkward!

My husband and I are trying to decide where to go on vacation and, of all places, he wants to go to Israel! I have no idea why he wants to go there!

In January, my boss is sending me on a business trip to Canada of all places! It’s going to be so cold there in January!

So, in the example sentences, the people are basically saying that of all the possible things, people or places in the world, this particular thing, person or place was chosen, and they are very surprised about that. The feeling is usually a little negative when people use this expression.

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