What is the difference between a year ago and from a year ago?

Like in these two sentences,

  1. So we took another look at those murders from a year ago
  2. Pretty successful a year ago.
  • What doo you think the difference is and what part is causing you problems?
    – mdewey
    Dec 3, 2022 at 12:27
  • From could be omitted. It just means that the murders were associated with a period of time a year ago. Dec 3, 2022 at 13:32
  • 2
    The second item isn't a sentence. That makes it more difficult to compare the usages. Please rewrite it as a sentence. Dec 3, 2022 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


Comparing two completely different utterances is challenging, so I'm going to compare your first sentence with this one, which is the same as 1, but without "from". This new sentence is ambiguous depending on how you parse it.

1a. So we took another look at [those murders a year ago].

1b. So [we took another look at those murders] [a year ago].

Sentence 1 means there were some murders a year ago, and we took another look at them. It doesn't specify when we took another look at them.

Sentence 1a is parsed to have the same meaning as sentence 1. "Those murders a year ago" is a constituent phrase, and within it, "a year ago" modifies "those murders".

Sentence 1b is parsed to have "a year ago" modifying "we took another look at those murders", so it specifies when "took another look" happened, not when the murders happened.

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