Can you tell me how to say the following correctly?

  • I am studying from book


  • I am studying by book.

I want to say that I get information from book to study. I read that "by" is used for describing method which is used, while "from" describes what is origin of something or somebody.

  • This needs to be on English language learners SE.
    – Peter
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


First, you need an article: normally a book, unless the book has already been mentioned or you expect the hearer to know which book, in which case the book.

As for your question: a book is not a method, so you can't use by.

You could say

I'm studying by reading a book

but not by a book.

The most common choice would be

I'm studying from a book.

  • OTOH, "I'm traveling by car" is perfectly idiomatic, so you can put a noun with no determiner there, at least in some situations. But it doesn't work with "by book." Perhaps this is because it sounds too close to "by the book"?
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 20:23
  • You're right, @Kevin, and this shows up how unhelpful it is to try and choose prepositions by semantics. Very often it is a matter of what preposition the governing word (arbitrarily) takes: travel usually takes by for both the means of transport (by car, by plane, by bike) and the medium (by road, by air, by sea) - except when it doesn't (on foot, on horseback).
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 20:30
  • @Kevin If you are learning it from books in general (equivalent to "travelling by car") we would say, as I have just done, "I am learning English from books". I think the reason that we say "travelling by car" but not "learning from book" is that one can travel in only one car at a time but can be studying from a number of different books in parallel.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 23:52
  • 1
    @BoldBen: I disagree. In "travelling by car," the word "car" is an abstract reference to cars in general, and does not denote any particular vehicle, so it takes zero determiner (you're still "travelling by car" even if you switch cars halfway through the trip). It's not a singular reference, because that requires a singular determiner. But for whatever reason, the construction doesn't work with "learning from book," presumably because it's the wrong verb, the wrong preposition, or both (i.e. there doesn't have to be a "logical" reason, sometimes English just has weird exceptions).
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 1:00
  • @Kevin You have a good point about the zero determiner. I think I was distracting myself from the real point which is that "from" can't be used with the zero determiner. For instance you couldn't say that a thief "takes purses from handbag" or that a boy scout "takes stones from horses hoof" even though those are their normal procedures. "Learing from book" is similarly restricted by the preposition.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 5:56

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