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The proposition "from" is could be used to indicate the source. In this example (context is soccer, or association football):

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"England were unable to score an equaliser - Olarticoechea making a particularly important defensive contribution in the 87th minute when he and Lineker both jumped for the ball from another Barnes cross, the two players collided, both missed the ball by a whisker..."

A ball is a physical object. A cross is the act of sending a ball across the field. The part:

"...when he and Lineker both jumped for the ball from another Barnes cross..."

suggests that a physical object (ball) could somehow appear as a result of an act (cross), which sounds weird. An abstract version of "the ball from a cross" would be "[an object] from [an action]", which suggests that the "[action]" has a hand in creating the "[object]".

Would this:

"...he and Lineker both jumped for the ball on another Barnes cross...."

be possibily better?

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  • "suggests that a physical object (ball) could somehow appear as a result of an act (cross), which sounds weird" -- I think that's exactly what happened. It sounds like it's about soccer. In soccer, passing a ball from one player to another is common. I think this passing is called a cross, particularly when it's a long pass, say, from one side of the field to another. May 30 '14 at 12:59
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I agree with your parsing of (he and Lineker) (jumped (for (the ball (from another cross)))) as opposed to the alternate given by @Jay of (he and Lineker) (jumped (for (the ball)) (from another cross)). The natural assumption is that the ball came from the cross, not that the players came from the cross; especially since a cross is, as you say, an action performed on a ball.

However, I see no reason why the idea that a ball appears somewhere as the result of a cross should be weird; the whole point of a cross is to make the ball disappear from location A and appear at location B on the opposite side of the field.

So it doesn't seem odd at all to me, in fact it sounds perfectly reasonable and natural.

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  • Well, okay, you could read it as "the ball came out of the cross". I guess that's plausible too.
    – Jay
    May 30 '14 at 20:22
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The word from is used to indicate who passed the ball (Barnes). In sports, a pass (or throw) uses the same prepositions as a birthday present:

a gift from my brother to my sister
a touchdown pass from Manning to Harrison
a scoring pass from Orr to Esposito
a crossing pass from Barnes to Lineker
a throw from Jeter to first base

As for your assertion that the wording "suggests that a physical object (ball) could somehow appear as a result of an act (cross)," that's not the case. The word from doesn't suggest that the ball was conjured out of nowhere, but that it got its direction from Barnes' foot. So:

he and Lineker both jumped for the ball from another Barnes cross

means the same as:

After a cross pass from Barnes, both he [Olarticoechea] and Lineker jumped for the ball.

I assure you, the preposition from sounds very natural to a sports fan in that context.


As for your initial assertion:

The proposition from is used to indicate the source.

That is an oversimplified view of a very flexible word. The word from can also be used:

  • when stating who gives or sends you something → this package from Bob
  • when something starts at a particular point and moves away → the puck from center ice
  • when some condition is because of or as a result of something → clothes wet from the rain.

Little prepositions often have many uses.

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  • Would "...he and Lineker both jumped for the ball after another Barnes cross..." be better than the original?
    – meatie
    May 31 '14 at 3:00
  • I like that a little bit better, but not because "from" isn't an appropriate word. It's just the original is not all that well-written a sentence to begin with; it reads like something a sportswriter put together hurriedly in order to meet a deadline.
    – J.R.
    May 31 '14 at 4:12
  • Supposed (still in the context of soccer or association football) a midfielder pushed the ball downfield with his foot. Then his forward teammate and an opposing defender both went for the ball. If write this: "The forward and defender both challenged for the ball FROM the midfielder's push." , would it be good English?
    – meatie
    May 31 '14 at 4:51
  • Yes, that's perfectly acceptable English – particularly the preposition from. I might suggest changing the word push to pass (even though I understand a push pass can sometimes be referred to as simply a push).
    – J.R.
    May 31 '14 at 9:35
  • Suppose a guy got pushed off a building by another person and landed on the awning of a store on the street level. Then this: "The awning caught the falling man from that push" would still be good English?
    – meatie
    May 31 '14 at 10:02
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I take it this is from the description of a football (soccer) game? Sorry, I'm not familiar with the terminology of the sport. But assuming that, as you say, a "cross" is an action ...

The quote does not say that the ball came from a cross. It says that they jumped from a cross. "For the ball" is a prepositional phrase acting as an adverb to modify "jumped". Eliminating some modifiers, you could simplify this sentence down to "[The two men] jumped from a cross." So they did a cross, and then from that cross they jumped.

The difficulty that often arises is that the same construction could have a totally different meaning. In a different context, you could say, "They asked for the ball from Sweden", meaning, they asked for the ball, and the ball is from Sweden.

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  • It is indeed soccer (association football). So, maybe "a ball from a cross" is technical jargon?
    – meatie
    May 30 '14 at 14:37
  • Or it could be an allusion to G. K. Chesterton's book, "The Ball and the Cross". :-)
    – Jay
    May 30 '14 at 20:19

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