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To “From” or not to “From”


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#1 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14411

Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:41 PM

My first personal rant.

When I grew into my current age, I always heard things such as, “to prevent them from taking over their nest,” or, “to stop the fire from spreading.”
I guarantee to every single reader that the text that I placed into quotes sounds like natural English.  Only a few of you of you are wondering what is special about those quotes. Only the most astute among you are double-checking why I chose those examples and trying to find out exactly what is wrong with them.
 
Let me give you the big one: “Scientists have figured out how to prevent meteors from hitting Earth.”
A little detail I hope you enjoy: When Earth is mentioned as a being, it is capitalized.  When it is mentioned as, “the earth,” it is not.  You can claim to be, “from Earth,” or, “from the earth.”
 
Little details aside, I have no doubt that so far none of you have really seen a problem with the grammar that I have provided as examples for this topic’s existence.
 
 
If you were not able to find the problems in the grammar in the examples I posted, it means you are…
 
…correct.
Calm down and feel good.
 
 
The first time I heard the lack of the necessary “from” was when I was 12 and watching The Nature Channel.  “In order to protect her cubs starving she needs to-,” huh?  What?  Her cubs are starving and in order to protect that she needs to-?
What.  The.  Fuck.  Does that mean?
 
It took me a bit but I realized that the British announcer had left out the word “from”.  The mother probably wants to protect her lion cubs from starving.  Not to protect the actual act of starving.
 
Now, after 12 years of watching that channel and having never heard such a grammatical failure I figured it was just a mistake.  And indeed the same mistake did not happen again in the same show.
 
It was 10 years later that I heard the same mistake, but by then I was living in Thailand and the guy who made that mistake was British.
I let it go because maybe it was a British thing or maybe it was only him and a few people from his area.  Who knows.  Let’s keep an open mind.  I wasn’t in America anymore so maybe this had been happening all along and I just was not aware since I was in the American shell until then.
 
 
And then I heard it more and more often.
Until I reached my limit with a recent headline that explained that scientists have a new method for deterring meteors from hitting Earth.
Or should I say, “Deterring meteors hitting Earth”?
 
Enough is enough.

At first it was just some British guy doing a voice for a TV show.  Fine.

But somehow it spread.

This is not acceptable on any level.

 

We don’t just throw out words we find inconvenient.

The meaning is entirely different.

#1: “Scientist have come up with a method to stop meteors hitting Earth.”

#2: “Scientist have come up with a method to stop meteors from hitting Earth.”

 

Who among you thinks it is any way acceptable to omit “from”?

Who among you thinks these 2 sentences mean the same thing?

 

#1 means that meteors are already hitting the earth and we can stop those meteors, which have already stopped by themselves because they’ve hit the earth.  Have fun scientists, stopping something that has already stopped.  But let’s put it in a more literal and digestible light shall we?

#Guy A: “I will stop a dog eating poison.”

#Guy B: “I will stop a dog from eating poison.”

 

Guy A will go around and look for a dog that is already eating poison and then tell it to stop.  We assume he will make it stop eating the poison but in fact all he claimed was that he will make the dog stop, so as far as we know he will shoot an ice-ray at it and put it into suspended animation.  He will stop a dog eating poison.  Literally put, he will find a dog that is already eating poison and then stop it in some undefined way, which may very well be by freezing it, which surely does stop it.

 

Guy B will go to any dog and warn it not to eat poison in the future.

And using “prevent” instead of “stop” changes very little in the result, and in fact just damages the grammar.  You will “prevent a dog eating poison”?  Is that even English?  Because the message you wanted to send was that you will “prevent a dog from eating poison,” which is a message English is fully equipped to handle, so why the fucking shortcuts?

 

 

Enough bullshit.

“From” is not an insignificant word, so stop being lazy bastards with it (to any among you who are).

I haven’t seen this transgression much on this site so my harsh words are not directed towards any specific person here, but after seeing it becoming more and more popular than the correct and proper way of communicating an idea I have reached my boiling point.

 

Take notice that this is happening and don’t let it happen anymore.  If you do this, stop.

If your friend does this, tell him or her to stop.

Whenever you hear anyone omitting the word “from” when it is necessary, correct him or her, and optionally punch him or her in the face to make sure it gets through.

 

 

L. Spiro


Edited by L. Spiro, 05 July 2013 - 02:49 PM.

It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#2 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4692

Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:54 PM

This folks is another example of someone who has too much time on her hands. smile.png
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#3 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14411

Posted 05 July 2013 - 03:15 PM

It’s something I have wanted to mention to anyone anywhere for over 2 years but used better judgement to keep it bottled inside.

The ironic thing is that it took 2 full bottles of 40% Vodka (not 40 proof, as that would only be 20% alcohol by American standards) for me to finally let it go.

 

In case it is not very clear, it’s ironic for someone to drink so much and then complain about others’ grammar, which is one of the first things you would expect to go from said individual.

 

And if grammar is the ironic point here, I have no idea what to say about spelling and punctuation.

 

 

L. Spiro


It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
L. Spiro Engine: http://lspiroengine.com
L. Spiro Engine Forums: http://lspiroengine.com/forums

#4 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7592

Posted 05 July 2013 - 04:21 PM

You owe me about 1 minute of my life back... (which was how long it took me to decide I was wasting my time...)

#5 Icebone1000   Members   -  Reputation: 1153

Posted 05 July 2013 - 04:24 PM

Cant you interpret it also as "stop the dog by/while eating poison", or "stop meteors by/while hitting the earth" (so chuck norris), cant you?



#6 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2205

Posted 05 July 2013 - 04:33 PM

I'm no grammar expert but I would say (if you can forgive the poor punctuation):

"to prevent them taking over their nest,"
This sounds grammatically correct to me but it might depend on how you complete the sentence.
 
"to stop the fire spreading."
Sounds like you want to stop a specific fire that is currently in the act of spreading.
 
"Scientists have figured out how to prevent meteors hitting Earth."
Suggests that scientists are working to prevent further impacts from a known group of meteors.

"In order to protect her cubs starving she needs to-,"
Just seems completely wrong to me. I can't make this sentence work in my head without changing words around. I think because you're already talking about a specific set of cubs.

"I will stop a dog eating poison." or "I will prevent a dog eating poison."
This sounds to me like a person is trying to stop a poison that is out there somewhere in the world eating any dogs it finds. It just doesn't work for me.

 

 

Yeah maybe I should get myself some alcohol cabinet and drink until this post is gone my mind.


Edited by kseh, 05 July 2013 - 04:34 PM.


#7 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4793

Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:48 PM

I'm actually out of the kind of fcks to give that this post needs :D


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#8 siri   Members   -  Reputation: 233

Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:58 PM

First world problems doesn't quite cover it.



#9 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21178

Posted 05 July 2013 - 06:35 PM

#Guy A: “I will stop a dog eating poison.”

#Guy B: “I will stop a dog from eating poison.”

 

 

Why worry about one dog? Regardless of whether it already has started eating the poison or not, only a single dog will die.

 

I, on the other hand, shall devote my life to stopping a "dog-eating poison". Think of all the poor puppies that we can save from being eaten, if we could only work together to eliminate the real threats. happy.png

 

That said, I was slightly irritated when someone tried to explain to me a few years back that an "arch-angel" means a fallen angel. Because apparently (according to some misinformed online dictionaries), we've redefined "arch". The person was trying to explain that it meant "anti", but even if that was the case, 'anti' means "against", not "degraded" or "traitor".

 

And while I'm on the subject of Greek and Latin, the same person mentioned "Rockalypse". Because jamming one english word together with a greek word that you don't originally understand makes perfect sense! Apocalypse = "Unveiling" or "uncovering". It's the same word as "Revelation", so the book of Revelation in some languages is the book of Apocalypse.


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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#10 SiCrane   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9674

Posted 05 July 2013 - 08:14 PM

Actually eliding words forms part of a number of pretty common regional variations on English. For instance in the Eastern Ohio/West Pennsylvania, the regional dialect often elides the "to be" in a number of situations. Like saying "this car needs washed" instead of "this car needs to be washed". If you get upset over every regional variation you run into you'll just give yourself an ulcer.



#11 Bregma   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5486

Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:10 PM

(1) it's a regional variation to omit certain propositions in English.  There are many language that have no prepositions at all, and successive waves of non-English immigrants or generations of public-school Latin and Greek education can influence regional or class distinction in grammatical usage.  Witness the "never split an infinitive" developed by Oxford dons to try to artificially force English into a regular latin-based grammar (heh, see what I did there).

 

(2) The English language is dynamic and alive.  For example, travelling through the United States you will hear additional auxiliary prepositions dangling off the end of perfectly complete sentences (an American will say "Where are you at?" when they mean "Where are you?").  It seems prepositions come and go.

 

Embrace the diversity.


Stephen M. Webb
Professional Free Software Developer

#12 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14411

Posted 05 July 2013 - 10:06 PM

So I have awakened and am sober, and apologize for such a weird post.
Accidental circumstances lead me to drink about twice as much as ever for about 3 times as long as ever (almost 10 hours!), all on a completely empty stomach.  Not necessarily the furthest gone I have been but it ranks up there.  Thank Todd God Jesus Hodgman that I took headache pills as a precautionary measure prior to falling asleep passing out because I can feel something that is trying to be a hang-over but isn’t quite being allowed to be thanks to the pills.
 
I wish this topic was not posted and I feel bad for having posted it (I do not deny that it reflects something that bugs me inside, but it is certainly not worth the trouble it took to type it—it doesn’t bother me that much), but I feel even worse for those who took the time to give real replies.  Wasting my own time is one thing.  Wasting the time of others is not acceptable.  I profusely apologize.
 
Leaving it at that feels wrong though.  To those who gave real replies I feel I owe a real response.
Besides, some of us here are professional writers for games, and while I (thankfully had enough sense even while drunk to have) billed this as a rant, the original post and some of its replies have shed real light on grammatical problems we all see far too often in what should be professional work.


"to prevent them taking over their nest,"
This sounds grammatically correct to me but it might depend on how you complete the sentence.

Grammatically it won’t change anything no matter how you end the sentence, but I would be interested in what kind of examples you could provide that make you feel that way.

"to stop the fire spreading."
Sounds like you want to stop a specific fire that is currently in the act of spreading.

In this case I think there is no way to misunderstand that that is the meaning.

"Scientists have figured out how to prevent meteors hitting Earth."
Suggests that scientists are working to prevent further impacts from a known group of meteors.

In this case you’ve understood the intended message, but not considered the actual structure of the sentence.
"Scientists have figured out how to prevent meteors hitting Earth."
"Scientists have figured out how to prevent meteors that are hitting Earth."
"Scientists have figured out how to prevent hitting-the-earth meteors."
All 3 of these variations have the exact same meaning (though the first one has no grammatical context).

"In order to protect her cubs starving she needs to-,"
Just seems completely wrong to me. I can't make this sentence work in my head without changing words around. I think because you're already talking about a specific set of cubs.

You should say the same thing about every example I provided (except the part about cubs, since my other examples did not include that).
Every single example gets the intended meaning when you add “from” at the appropriate spot. Otherwise, you get a literal meaning by changing the order of the words or by adding hyphens. None of the examples actually make sense as they are.

"I will stop a dog eating poison." or "I will prevent a dog eating poison."
This sounds to me like a person is trying to stop a poison that is out there somewhere in the world eating any dogs it finds. It just doesn't work for me.

Servant of the Lord correctly points out that in order for it to have that meaning it would require a hyphen.
"I will prevent a dog eating poison."
"I will prevent a dog-eating poison."
"I will prevent a dog-eating poison from coming into existence."
Of course, when spoken, you don’t “hear” the hyphen, so when listening to someone who is omitting “from” from many of his or her sentences you may easily misunderstand. I think it is best to be clear.



(2) The English language is dynamic and alive.  For example, travelling through the United States you will hear additional auxiliary prepositions dangling off the end of perfectly complete sentences (an American will say "Where are you at?" when they mean "Where are you?").  It seems prepositions come and go.
 
Embrace the diversity.

I get your message but unfortunately you’ve just used exactly the worst possible example for me.
Living abroad for roughly a decade I speak multiple languages, and in each language, including my own native one, I’ve been okay with a lot of bastardization that takes place. In Japanese particles are omitted quite frequently although grammatically they should be there.
It’s one of those things that I accept that other people do but I will not do myself.

But you’ve just hit on the one bastardization that I absolutely hate the most from all 3.5 languages that I know. It in itself is not any worse than saying, “Where are you from?”, but there is personal trauma behind this one.
I was 5 years old the first time I told my mother to stop adding a superfluous “at” at the end of her sentences.
She gave me a spanking that day and on the following day she let me have a taste of her sweet potatoes and followed by threatening that if she gave me a plate of some that I would definitely be forced to eat it in order not to waste food. Then she gave me yam instead of sweet potatoes, which I literally barfed up on the 3rd attempt at swallowing.
She made me eat the barf too. A sick and twisted prank on a child who just wanted to listen to a little proper grammar.

So I get your message. But damn. You could literally not have picked a worse example for it.

Yeah maybe I should get myself some alcohol cabinet and drink until this post is gone my mind.

I C WUT U DID THEY'RE.
But really, while it is nice to have a small discussion on grammar in a place where grammar is actually related to some people’s jobs, one thing that should also be taken out of this topic is, “Drinking is bad, m’kay?”


L. Spiro
It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
L. Spiro Engine: http://lspiroengine.com
L. Spiro Engine Forums: http://lspiroengine.com/forums

#13 siri   Members   -  Reputation: 233

Posted 05 July 2013 - 11:42 PM

Servant of the Lord correctly points out that in order for it to have that meaning it would require a hyphen.
"I will prevent a dog eating poison."
"I will prevent a dog-eating poison."
"I will prevent a dog-eating poison from coming into existence."
Of course, when spoken, you don’t “hear” the hyphen, so when listening to someone who is omitting “from” from many of his or her sentences you may easily misunderstand. I think it is best to be clear.

 

Personally I think context solves this problem.



#14 Vortez   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2704

Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:13 AM

English is not my native language, but i think it's ok to skip some small words in english, i've seen that often, and i like it (none come to mind though). As long as you understand what the other is saying i don't see the problem here.



#15 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1835

Posted 06 July 2013 - 08:07 AM

First world problems doesn't quite cover it.

Not anywhere as bad as when in other forum we started arguing about how some programming terms were translated into Spanish, which rather quickly derailed into arguing whether or not these kind of issues added to the language or destroyed it, and even reached the point to cite the RAE... only to find out they have been accepting some of those errors as valid in their dictionary. Yup.


Don't pay much attention to "the hedgehog" in my nick, it's just because "Sik" was already taken =/ By the way, Sik is pronounced like seek, not like sick.

#16 Bregma   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5486

Posted 06 July 2013 - 08:50 AM

If it's any consolation, people who get drunk and complain about grammar are the best kind of drunk.  If I had parties, they're the kind I'd make sure get invited a second time.


Stephen M. Webb
Professional Free Software Developer

#17 Matias Goldberg   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3722

Posted 06 July 2013 - 11:27 AM

I fully agree with kseh. The first 3 sentences he mentions sound "right" to me, while the last 2 sound completely wrong/off and are confusing.

Don't ask me why, I don't know.



#18 froop   Members   -  Reputation: 636

Posted 06 July 2013 - 01:35 PM

You shouldn't drink so much with your liver disease, no?

 

(just worried)


Edited by froop, 06 July 2013 - 01:52 PM.


#19 Khaiy   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1342

Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:04 PM

Grammar is far fussier than anyone's actual use of it, and while there is generally a "preferred" construction it's rarely the only way to make one's meaning clear. Issues are more conspicuous in written communication, where punctuation and readers' biases influence how they interpret a statement with more granularity than would be the case if it were spoken.

 

For example, are you less irritated by "...to prevent her cubs' starving"? The plural possessive, while probably not technically correct, gives enough context to link the cubs to the starvation.

 

The use of "from" in these examples isn't meaningless, as it helps provide extra clarification of which noun is connected to which verb. It's in line with typical use of a preposition, but it's definitely a less-common (and harder to cleanly define) type or relationship to express with "from". It seems practically idiomatic to me, and if the modern convention were to not use "from" this way I don't think that communication would be much degraded. But I do think that you're right to defend it, and the people who omit it don't have a strong case.

 

If you really want a grammar/punctuation thing to be unhappy about, how about the drive to eliminate apostrophes? I truly don't understand the push.



#20 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21178

Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:09 PM

If it's any consolation, people who get drunk and complain about grammar are the best kind of drunk.  If I had parties, they're the kind I'd make sure get invited a second time.

 

I bet the greeks did that alot - drunk and arguing about grammar and philosophy. That's probably how Rome conquered them.


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

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