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He keeps books he uses to gain knowledge from, in that bookshelf.

He keeps books he uses to gain knowledge, in that bookshelf.

Are both the sentences grammatically correct?

Is there a difference in their meaning?

  • I prefer the first phrase – SovereignSun Dec 2 '16 at 19:36
  • I find the second more fluent. I would say "He uses the books to gain knowledge" or "he gains knowledge from the books", but not "he uses the books to gain knowledge from." – stangdon Dec 2 '16 at 19:46
  • @stangdon I heard someone use a sentence that went (what you're about to read might offend you. And if it does, I'm sorry) "They keep unicorns they chop up to get their powers (from), in the storage room." Now, obviously the person who said it, meant it as a sarcastic statement. Anyway, I don't remember whether he used the From. Is the sentence he used okay with, or without, the From? – lekon chekon Dec 2 '16 at 19:54
  • In that sentence I think it works better with the "from", because they're "getting powers from" the unicorns. – stangdon Dec 2 '16 at 20:16
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    Both are terribly awkward, in my opinion. Better would be "He keeps the books he learns from on that bookshelf" — or something similar. – Robusto Dec 2 '16 at 20:37
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Both of these are relative clauses, the only difference is the omission of the preposition "from" in the second. Let's look at them individually.

He keeps books he uses to gain knowledge from, in that bookshelf.

Firstly, it is more common in English for books to be on a bookshelf rather than in, but that is not the main point here. There is an omitted word here: that. This sentence really means: He keeps books [that] he uses to gain knowledge from, in that bookshelf.

But in English you "use to gain knowledge from something." You can only do one of these: you can "use to gain knowledge," or "gain knowledge from something." So we would say: He keeps books [that] he gains knowledge from, in that bookshelf.

Though this is a common way for people to talk in English, this is actually grammatically incorrect. It should be:

He keeps books from which he gains knowledge on that bookshelf.

The second sentence, "He keeps books he uses to gain knowledge, in that bookshelf" is grammatically correct except the small fix of in/on that bookshelf. What this is really saying, again, is:

He keeps books [that] he uses to gain knowledge, in that bookshelf.

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