1

I would like to know which preposition to use - by or from in the following sentence:

  • It was handed down to me from/by my dad.

Examples of both can be found on the free dictionary website, and I don't know if they are interchangeable or BE and AE difference. are there any subtle variations in usage.

After some research, I hypothesised that if 'to' is in the sentence, I also need 'from'. Otherwise, 'by' is used.

  • The guilty verdict was passed down by the jury.

Please give a detail answer that would explain the differences. Many thanks.

1

"by" is the generic preposition when you use a verb in passive voice -- of the form "It was verb'ed by subject". In the case of the verb phrases "to hand down" and "to pass down", "from" typically fits as a better preposition, because "from" is expressing the transfer of the thing being passed/handed down.

You don't necessarily need "from" if "to" is in the sentence -- using "to" is to indicate who is receiving the thing being passed/handed down. For example these are all valid:

  • It was handed down to me from my dad. (more common)
  • It was handed down to me by my dad. (less common -- gramatically correct but it won't sound quite right)
  • The guilty verdict was passed down by the jury.
  • The guilty verdict was passed down to the court by the jury.
  • The guilty verdict was passed down to the court from the jury.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.