In one of my textbooks, there is a line that reads 'Plasma can be ignited and sustained from many types of gases.'

Is this usage correct? I would have rephrased this sentence as 'Plasma can be ignited from and sustained by many types of gases' (which also sounds a little 'unusual'). I have seen the expression 'sustained from' used in association with accidents (as 'injuries sustained from...') .MWD defines 'sustain' as:

Definition of sustain

transitive verb

1 : to give support or relief to

2 : to supply with sustenance : nourish

3 : keep up, prolong

4 : to support the weight of : prop; also : to carry or withstand (a >weight or pressure)

5 : to buoy up sustained by hope

6a : to bear up underb : suffer, undergo sustained heavy losses

7a : to support as true, legal, or justb : to allow or admit as valid >the court sustained the motion

8 : to support by adequate proof : confirm testimony that sustains >our contention

What I want to know is if this usage( in this context) is valid and if it is, what does the author mean?

  • 1
    It is normally sustained by not sustained from when the meaning is "to be supported or nourished", with the object of preposition by being that which sustains. from refers to a source or origin or cause, and that's why it's used in contexts like "injuries sustained from an accident". If the plasmas are understood to be a product or result, then "from" is acceptable. May 12 '17 at 12:13
  • Dictionally is ambiguous at best, and otherwise esoteric. See One Look. In what sense are you using it? May 15 '17 at 13:23

Even though I am not a native speaker, to my ear in this context (based on what I have read on the subject) the verb sustain implies rather some action or source of energy than source of matter and it is more synonymous to the verb keep.

From here:

[...] it was able to sustain plasma with a power as small as 1 W.

Or here:

High frequency microwaves allowed to create and sustain plasma with significant density [...]

Perhaps the word using might do:


[...] we have developed a new device to produce a stable glow-like plasma using helium gas.

The minimal change I would do in your sentence would be:

Plasma can be ignited and sustained using many types of gases.

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