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Description:

I need to reach to some particular place from 'A' street to another 'B' and 'C' street join them

Question:

Is it right to say

you can get to street 'B' by street 'C'

you can get to street 'B' by taking street 'C'

you can get to street 'B' by going on street 'C'

  • 1
    Yes, that is a correct use of by. You can also say by way of. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 6 '17 at 20:49
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Yes. All 3 ways are correct.

The 1st one when you say "by street C", you are essentially implying "by taking street 'C'"

The 3rd one is correct, but if C is the street joining A and B, I think it's better to say "by going through street C".

1

Based strictly on definitions from average dictionaries it's probably hard to find anything technically wrong with any of the three; however, I never hear native speakers use the first sentence and native speakers will invariably say you can get to street 'B' from street 'C'. The other two sentences are native-sounding (although probably more common is going down or even going up rather than going on but all are expressions I've heard from native speakers).

I believe the reason that you can get to street 'B' by street 'C' is somewhere in the range of incorrect to much less preferable than you can get to street 'B' from street 'C' relates to advanced theories of language and culture which are beyond the scope of most dictionaries.

The book The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending And The Mind's Hidden Complexities by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner makes a relevant examination of theories of language developed by Len Talmy, especially Talmy's theory of Access Path expressions:

[Human beings] have a standard way of using conceptual blends to give insight into location, shape and contiguity....As Talmy writes, "Most observers can agree that languages systematically and extensively refer to stationary circumstances with forms and constructions whose basic reference is to motion."....we have the overachieving goal of achieving human scale, and the scene. It is more congenial for human beings to process a full, dynamic, intentional human scale action than it is to process one apparently simple component of it."

The book then gives several examples such as: The mountain range goes all the way from Mexico to Canada and The field spreads out in all directions from the granary and the more subtle The bakery is across the street from the bank.

This last example you will notice is very similar to your first sentence. The book explains:

The static input could be expressed by "The bakery is on the street." The motion input has something departing from one point, traversing some surface, and arriving at another point. The words "across" and "from" come from the motion input....In the bakery example, the motion input has a surface that is traversed. Its counterpart in the static input is the street. In the blend [ie both "across" and "from" which create a fused element], the surface traversed is fused with the street; we can use the label "the street" to pick out that fused element in the blend and the put "the street" in the grammatical position for the surface traversed ("across the street").

So, from is a word that creates a motion input. If you say you can get to street 'B' from street 'C' you have a static input (street 'C') and the motion input from, creating the Access Path expression which is normal to languages (not only English but most if not all languages according to Talmy). However using the word by is not a motion input (which is why native speakers who use by add additional words that creates the motion input such as your other sentences by taking or by going down/up/on), so using by would create language with only a static input which is only a component of the human scale action and returning to Talmy's theory quoted above:

"It is more congenial for human beings to process a full, dynamic, intentional human scale action than it is to process one apparently simple component of it."

EDIT: another answer claimed that you can get to street 'B' by street 'C' clearly implies the unsaid words you can get to street 'B' by [taking] street 'C' which is completely incorrect. To begin with, why not the unsaid words you can get to street 'B' by [going down] street 'C'? In a comment below, @fixer1234 said that he thought that if there were implied words they would be you can get to street 'B' by [way of] street 'C', another option. And if there's no clarity on what the supposed unsaid words are then we can't say they exist - you cannot use unsaid words which are not clear. But even more relevant, there's a perfectly acceptable definition that would allow a speaker to use by without any additional implied words:

  1. over the surface of, through the medium of, along, or using as a route: He came by the highway. She arrived by air. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/by?s=t

So it cannot be conclusively said that there must be additional implied words and, as I mentioned above, based on a simple reading of the dictionary, one might conclude that the first sentence is fine. It's only when we consider more advanced theories of language like I presented that it becomes clear why native speakers don't tend to use the first sentence.

I'll add to my edit that this same answer claimed that going through a street is the preferred expression but I'll stick by what I said above that most native speakers would say going down the street and the next most common would be going up the street and only after these do we start to hear expressions like going on the street or going through the street.

  • Interesting. "by taking street C" and "by going on street C" clearly focus on the travel. But couldn't "by street 'C'" be shorthand for "by way of street C"? i.e., referring more to the routing path (the shape of the line), rather than the travel? That's not inconsistent with the concept in the answer, but that's how I interpreted the sentence example, so it didn't sound at all strange, which is what you would expect if it violated concepts of how we think about things. – fixer1234 Jun 13 '17 at 18:26
  • @fixer1234 see my edit. You cannot have implied language if everyone has a different guess as to what the exact implied words are, and especially if the existing language already meets a standard allowed usage (the #2 definition in the dictionary) without adding any implied language. No, this sentence is acceptable in a definitional sense as is, and the problem with it is not that it needs more words, but that it needs a motion in order to feel right as my answer clarifies. It needs a different word (from). – Brillig Jun 13 '17 at 18:32
  • Hmm. The implied words are just clarification of different ways the sentence might be interpreted. "By way of" might not be a common way for people to interpret the meaning of the sentence, but it actually reinforces your argument. "From", "taking", and "going" are much more "travel" words (and "taking" and "going" are action words), than "by". Using "by" in a "travel-based" interpretation, it does sound odd. When I thought of it as just two points on a map and the shape of the line connecting them, it didn't. So I think you're onto something here. +1 – fixer1234 Jun 13 '17 at 18:54
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    @fixer1234 thank you! It's a really interesting concept to me and I like discussions of how grammar usage moves from just a list of rules in a book to broader influences like how people think. I hope you also find it interesting. – Brillig Jun 13 '17 at 18:58

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