English as a Second Language/from/of and (the)

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Question
Dear Jed,

I composed this sentence:

"Children usually like to build castles from/of (the) sand when they are on (the) beach."

Please guide me about the following two points:

1. build castles 'from' or 'of' the sand. Which one must be used? Also, is there a difference in meaning if we use 'from' instead of 'of'?
2. I am not sure whether the definite article is correctly used here. That's why I put it between brackets.

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

Answer
Children usually like to build castles from/of (the) sand when they are on (the) beach.

Please guide me about the following two points:

1. build castles 'from' or 'of' the sand. Which one must be used?  "of" sand, we say "castle of sand" just like we say "land of dreams" or "mother of pearl", "glass of water", "cup of tea", etc. "From" can be used as well here though since it indicates the material the castle is built with/of.

Also, is there a difference in meaning if we use 'from' instead of 'of'? You can use either from or of, but most times "of" is the preferred preposition (see the examples above)


2. I am not sure whether the definite article is correctly used here. That's why I put it between brackets.
There is no need to use an article in front of "sand" as it's a non-count noun, but you need an article in front of beach.

Correct versions of your sentence:

Children usually like to build castles of/from sand when they are on/at the beach.
or
Children usually like to build sand castles when they are on/at the beach.

I hope this helps.

Again I picked up your q from the q pool (apparently it has been rejected by another one of the ESL experts for some reason).

Best,  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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