grammar question raised reading the bible This is the question I have when I'm reading the bible.

Psalm 105

Tell of all his wonderful acts.

- why here comes "of"? does this need preposition?

when they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.

-> what does "but" mean here? is it just adverb here?

can anyone help with these questions?

I'd be very appreciated.

Oct 20, 2018 2:47 PM
Answers · 6
Hi Jenna! "Tell of" is a phrasal verb. The verb + preposition go together and have a new meaning that is slightly different from just "tell." "Tell of..." implies that the speaker is telling a *story* about something, usually an important or epic story. The focus is on the story. If we just say "tell [someone] [something]," the focus is more on the act of telling than on what is being told. For example, we would just say, "tell me your name," and not "tell me of your name." That would sound weird because with "tell of," we are expecting some sort of story. In your second example, you are right: "but" is used is an adverb here. In this sentence it means something like "only." It is being used to emphasize the small number of Israelites. (Side note: I have two different translations of the Bible that both read "When they were few in number..." without the "but".)
October 20, 2018
Hi, Jenna I'm an English learner as well. I read the Bible (NIV version) every day, perhaps I can share how I understand it. The phrasal verb "tell of" is mainly used in literature, it means to mention or to talk about something. Since the Bible is considered a classic literature, so there would be a lot of literary phrases used. While the word "but" in "when they were but few in number" used as an adverb, it means just, merely or only. It would be like: "When they were merely few in number" Here are some examples using "but" as an adverb: - What can you say, he was but a child. - There's no guarantee that I will succeed, I can but try. Do they make sense to you? Regards, Tere
October 20, 2018
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Chinese (Cantonese), English, Korean
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Chinese (Cantonese), English