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I have a question about "from" here:

Is there life on Mars? According to images from NASA, the latest news suggests that there is evidence of intelligent design on the Red Planet. Reportedly, pictures obtained from the Mars Curiosity rover show what appears to be a high-pressure valve, the kind seen in old designs made on Earth. However, others believe the imprints seen on the surface of Mars are FROM arms or hammers from the robot probe.

"From" is usually used to denote original location of a physical object. An "imprint" is not physical object. So, the phrase "imprints seen on the surface of Mars are from arms or hammers from the robot probe" seems wrong. Would replacing it with "imprints seen on the surface of Mars are made by arms or hammers from the robot probe" be better?

  • 'from' and 'made by' are both correct. However if your doubt is whether 'made by' is better then i'd say it's better to use 'from' in this case. – Leo Nov 2 '14 at 16:33
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    From can be used to express origin. It does not have to refer to the origin of a physical object. I love the music from the movie Sound of Music. Or: I like the smell from cooking soup. Second, an imprint is indeed a physical object. Okay, maybe not, but it has a material sense to it, in that you can draw it or take a picture of it. – user6951 Nov 2 '14 at 16:40
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    @meatie "The detective found fingerprints from the suspect." or "The detective found the fingerprints of the suspect." or "The detective found fingerprints left by the suspect." They prepositions don't substitute cleanly for one another in this sense. You could get away with of without adding the to the sentence, but it would be clumsy. By would not work without some modification. Stating it more simply, "The detective found the suspect's fingerprints." would probably be best here. – Jason Patterson Nov 3 '14 at 3:17
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However, others believe the imprints seen on the surface of Mars are from arms or hammers from the robot probe.

The Original Poster says that "from is usually used to denote original location of a physical object." This is often true. However, from is used more generally to indicate the source of something:

  • sounds from the cupboard
  • looks from admirers
  • ideas from a book
  • inspiration from a song
  • marks from the pencils

In the examples above, the sounds, looks, ideas, inspiration and marks were not physical things in the cupboard, admirers, book, song or pencils. These things are just being thought of as the sources of the sounds and looks and so forth.

Hope this helps!

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