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This is a place where kids can learn about the past (from?) from dinosaur models to rock collections and pictures of stars in the sky. ( I made it up)

There are two patterns here I'm combining:
a. learn something from
b. from...to...

I'm not sure if, when I combine these two patterns, both "from" should be retained.

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  • Why would you make up such a thing? If you see no real examples, might that be because the idea is unrealistic? That example doesn't usefully 'combine' two patterns; it distorts at least one of them. Only one case in English might ever allow 'from from' and that one has no relevance here. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 21:20

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Not quite. "From X to Y" describes a range of things, but doesn't function as a noun phrase itself. You need a noun for it to modify; the idiom is everything from X to Y:

This is a place where kids can learn about the past from everything from dinosaur models to rock collections and pictures of stars in the sky.

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It’s at best considered poor style to use the same preposition twice in a row, and at worst makes the sentence confusing or erroneous. (I can make up a few unusual exceptions, such as “The history of of,” but don’t worry about those.)

I would suggest rewording so that you only need one from. For example:

This is a place where kids can learn about the past, with exhibits from dinosaur models and rock collections to pictures of stars in the sky.

From dinosaur models and rock collections to pictures of stars in the sky, we make kids love learning about the past.

Kids can learn about the past here, using exibits from ....

(Stylistically, I’d prefer going from the things deep in the ground to the things far up in the sky, because “from ... to ...” usually spans two extremes.)

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  • with exhibits ranging from [...] to [...]
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 19:10
  • @Yorik The sentence is correct either with or without ranging.
    – Davislor
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 22:02
  • not really, but it sure is awkward without it.
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 14:56
  • @Yorik The form without ranging feels fine to me, and is certainly more common. Leaving it out does create ambiguity between “ranging from ...” and “proceeding from ....”
    – Davislor
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 16:24
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No, your pattern a (learn something from) is not possible here because the where makes this, as one might put it somewhat awkwardly, a place kids can learn about the past at.

In that sense, the construct “a place where kids can learn about the past” is analogous to “a place where kids can eat ice cream” or “a place where kids can enquire about summer job opportunities,” rather than—as one might describe a library—“a place kids can borrow books from.” So because the kids’ learning happens at the place, it cannot (grammatically) at the same time happen from it.

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    I don’t get your point at all here. On their own, both patterns work just fine in the sentence given: “This is a place where kids can learn about the past from trained instructors / from dinosaurs to the industrial revolution”. The only problem is that you cannot combine the two patterns into one by treating the topics (from X to Y) as the source of the learning (the thing that teaches you), at least not without adding a noun as in the-baby-is-you’s answer. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 11:16
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, see the example I have appended to clarify my point. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 12:05
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    You’re misparsing the sentence. It’s not ‘a place from which kids can learn about the past’. It’s ‘a place at which children can learn about the past; they learn from [= are taught by] (everything) from dinosaurs to pictures of stars in the sky’. ‘From dinosaurs to pictures of stars in the sky’ is meant to be the thing that teaches the children about the past at the place. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 12:54
  • Yes, @JanusBahsJacquet, that is the parsing of the original sentence. Its only from is used in specifying a range. But what OP asked about is the possibility of inserting another from to specify a source of the learning. It’s that suggested additional from, as in “Kids can learn from this place,” that I’m saying can’t work because place is already modified by the where business. OP explicitly asks about retaining “both from’s.” Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 14:07
  • No, without the extra from, the parsing is simply, “This is a place where children can learn about the past, [including everything] from dinosaurs to pictures of stars in the sky” – no mention of the source of learning at all. There is no suggestion in the question of inserting an extra from with the place as its object, as you’re describing. The suggestion is to insert an extra from whose object is ‘[everything] from dinosaurs to pictures of stars in the sky’. It’s not about learning from the place, but about being at the place and learning from the collection of things. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 14:27
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You can simply say:—

This is a place from where kids can learn about the past from dinosaur models to rock collections and pictures of stars in the sky.

(1st From, I think, is necessary as it indicates the source of getting knowledge, if we use other prepositions we can't be sure of the source)

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What's missing is the "WHAT" -- a noun that the first "from" refers to. The sentence needs a generic group term that introduces the range of things that are then listed. Here is how this should be written:

"This is a place where kids can learn about the past from interactive exhibits, ranging from dinosaur models and rock collections to pictures of stars in the sky."

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