I would use the word "of" as the word "from" indicates origin so it sounds a bit weird. I read this in a periodical from JSTOR talking about immigration to the old border states.

  • We say: The garden was full of bugs. No corner of it was free from them. Applied to people, it sounds slightly racist.
    – Lambie
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:32
  • from, Definition 2: used as a function word to indicate physical separation or an act or condition of removal, abstention, exclusion, release, subtraction, or differentiation; protection from the sun, relief from anxiety
    – stangdon
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


The simple and complete (though possibly unsatisfying) answer is that the adjective "free" in this sense correlates with the preposition "from".

The meaning of "free" in this context from Merriam-Webster is:

4 a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome

This means if you use "free" in this sense, then "from" is one of the correct prepositions to connect "free" to its object.

There is no grammatical reason beyond that. There are etymological roots to that correlation, but etymology isn't grammar.

  • Sometimes free of can be substituted - Free from mosquitos and Free of mosquitos. Am I free from mosquitos while my backyard is free of mosquitos? Sometimes it cannot be substituted. Free from the drudgery of housework and Free of the drudgery of housework. Or does that work too?
    – EllieK
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:10
  • 1
    @EllieK-Don'tsupporther I chose not to mention "free of" in my answer because it's tangential to a question about "from", but I was careful to say that "from" is one of the correct prepositions.
    – gotube
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:58

Bryan Garner asserts, in his Dictionary of Legal Usage, that both free from and free of are correct but also notes a distinction with the noun form: We speak of freedom from something unpleasant or onerous (freedom from oppression, pestilence, coercion) but use of with something neutral or beneficial (freedom of speech). (Also free of charge.)

I suggest that the distinction should also be maintained with free from [something onerous] and free of [something neutral or beneficial], given that readers have unconsciously stored the distinction noted above.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .