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I am confused with below expression.

  1. You might get a correct answer by him.
  2. You might get a correct answer from him.

Which is the correct expression?

2 Answers 2

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"From" is correct. I don't know if there's a particular English grammar rule that defines this -- it's just the proper idiom in common use.

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  • You mean 'by' could be grammatical, but not commonly used?
    – KKS
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 7:17
  • I don't think there are any rules why certain prepositions go with certain verbs -- they just do, and you have to memorize these patterns. To "get by" is an idiom that means "to manage or continue to exist in a state or situation where something is lacking" as in "We didn't have a lot of money but we got by somehow." Other idioms are "get out", "get back", "get into", "get away", "get over", "get behind", and so on. All of these have different meanings.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 7:22
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The differences between the two are extremely difficult to explain because it is not based on some sort of logic, but rather on habit of how speakers use English. Altogether this gets very complicated and you're probably perfectly fine just thinking that the "by him" version is incorrect. It can be used in certain contexts, although rarely. So rare in fact, that I don't think I've ever used English like that in 29 years of speaking English as a native.

Basically, you almost never need to use the "by him" version and it generally sounds incorrect, however, there are a few instances where I could imagine saying it. I would say that the "by him" is not the normal way of speaking, so it sounds like the fact that an answer is by the person is being emphasized. In the normal use of the word "answer", using the "by" collocation here is incorrect. An answer, as in a reply to a question, is not something that we say is "by" someone. However, I can imagine that if you were talking about answers that are written on websites such as this website, then you would say that an answer is "by" someone. For example, this very answer that I am writing right now is an answer that is by me. This is the same usage of the word "by" as if I were talking about a letter by me or a book that was written by me, etc. It means that a person is the author of the answer. It has to be something written or typed for one to say that an answer was written "by" someone and for it to be correct English. You could not refer to a verbal answer and use the expression "by him".

Imagine if you were searching through a list of correct answers to a question on this website. You then ask, "Do you think I might find a correct answer by George?" (notice that here "by" is correct and not "from", because "from" makes it sound like George specifically sent his answer to you) and then I tell you that "you might find a correct answer by him." "By him" is correct because George would be the author of the answer.

Whew, what a pain in the English. This is one of those things where not being a native speaker makes it a lot harder to know this stuff. Maybe a proper linguist could help explain this stuff more technically than I could?

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  • Could you please explain why you think this. It would make for a much better answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 9:24
  • The reason my answer is so short is because it really comes down to "how it is" and doesn't rely on any rule. English is full of idiomatic quirks that you simply have to memorize, and the verb "get" can mean many, many different things depending on which following preposition you use. "Get on", "get back", "get even", "get over", "get through", "get into", and so on -- all have different meanings from each other, and some have multiple meanings depending on context. It would be nice if it was more simple, but alas it's not.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 18:45

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