Made of/from

Is there really any difference between using the prepositions "of" and "from" in the expression "made from/of a certain material"?


  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited November 7

    There can be.

    There's a Scottish drink called Iron Bru' with the humorous claim that it's 'made from girders'. They couldn't say 'made of girders'. That would suggest a structure — part of a bridge, for example.

    I think the difference — when there is one — is that made from suggests a transformation. Beer is made from malt, as is whisky.

    Another possible difference is that made of X tends to suggest that X is the only ingredient, or at least the most important ingredient.

    Here are the relevant example sentence from the Oxford Online Dictionary:

    ‘cricket bats are made of willow’
    ‘His house was made of mud and had been almost wiped out, but his fence was perfect.’
    ‘The propeller is made of extruded, glass-filled nylon and is the usual propeller shape.’
    ‘The body is made of millions of cells, most of them linked together to form tissues.’
    ‘The roof is made of high quality fabric, and when tucked away, folds into three layers on top of one another.’

    These illustrate the 'only/main ingredient' sense.

    ‘Fleece is made from polyester and is designed to feel soft, warm and elastic.’
    ‘His famous vacuum cleaner is made from clear plastic, allowing the owner to see all of the working parts.’
    ‘All the great white wines are made from Chardonnay, all the great reds from Pinot Noir.’
    ‘The West Indian sauce is made from the exceedingly hot scotch bonnet pepper.’
    ‘At the moment he is only using what he can make from domestically available materials.’

    These illustrate the 'transformation' sense, with the exception of the vacuum cleaner. I don't think we could call it 'made of clear plastic' because it would imply that it consisted of nothing (or hardly anything) else.

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