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Tell me please which preposition I have to use after the word originate in the following sentence.

I know what this phrase means, but it difficult to tell where it originates in/from.

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Both prepositions are acceptable in a main clause:

X originated in Y

X originated from Y

The spark that set the stable on fire originated from a smokestack nearby.

These species originated in the sea but migrated into fresh water.

With respect your use in the where-clause, I would say:

I know what this phrase means, but it is difficult to tell where it originated.

You really don't need a preposition there, but if you are going to use one, use from, as user3169 pointed out in the comment below:

... You cannot tell from where it originated yes

... You cannot tell in where it originated no

So:

You cannot tell where it originated from.

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  • Hmm... I would use from since you can also write "it is difficult to tell from where it originates". You can't use in this way.
    – user3169
    Aug 27, 2018 at 20:21
  • @user3169: Right you are. I was thinking of X originates in Y and X originates from Y in isolation, not in the context of this particular sentence with its where-clause. I wouldn't use a preposition with the where-clause in any case. I will edit the answer.
    – TimR
    Aug 27, 2018 at 20:31

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