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Which would be better to say?

  • He reminds me of Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • He reminds me of Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • He reminds me of Dill of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Also, which is more appropriate in a formal context?

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1  
I think someone can answer this better than me so I am putting it in a comment. I have always used the first form i.e. Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird when referring to characters from works of fiction. I dont think either of the latter two are used or acceptable forms. –  Pawan Jul 15 '13 at 5:46
    
'from' and 'in' are equally acceptable. The last sounds weird. –  Mitch Jul 15 '13 at 15:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Of the three options, ‘of’ is the least common, as bib mentioned. I cannot think of a particular situation where it would be more appropriate than ‘from’ or ‘in’.

‘From’ and ‘in’ have slightly different meanings:

  • From simply compares the two characters to each other
  • In carries a slight connotation that you are comparing specific actions/scenes/similar, rather than just characters per se

If you were comparing actions, rather than entire characters, ‘in’ would definitely be far more natural than ‘from’—e.g., “He eats a slug and then immediately throws up, reminding me of Ron in Harry Potter”, where the reference is not to Ron Weasley as a complete character, but rather to the specific setting/scenes where he is unfortunate enough to end up vomiting slugs for half a day. ‘From’ here would have been somewhat awkward, indicating that Ron’s entire personality reminds you of someone eating a slug and then throwing up.

If you are simply comparing characters as a whole, however, both work fine, although ‘in’ gives the vague impression that there is something more or less specific in To Kill a Mockingbird that makes the character you’re describing here remind you of Dill.

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Assuming you're communicating the equivalent of "He reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird's Dill." I would assume the answer would stress source-as-in-origin of the character by the book and not the character's source-as-in-locale. Therefore, I would choose to say, "He reminds me of Dill of To Kill a Mockingbird."

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Could you explain what you mean by the two sources? –  Simon Kuang Jul 15 '13 at 7:48
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Of the three choices, of would be the least common in US English. –  bib Jul 15 '13 at 11:41
    
@bib and Simon, If you were asking, "Where did Yasser come from?" the answer could be "He came from the Chicago airport" (locale) or "He was raised in northern Egypt" (origin). When speaking formally (which is rare in US English on any occasion) he would be referred to "Yasser Kassim of Cairo, Egypt" –  user1661469 Jul 16 '13 at 21:24

How about

He reminds me of Dill from the book To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Do I have to say "the book," or is it better/worse stylistically? –  Simon Kuang Jul 15 '13 at 7:46
    
@SimonKuang It is not grammatically necessary, but it helps with context; whether or not you should include or omit it depends on your audience, especially in spoken conversation. You might use it here to distinguish the book from the film, for example. –  choster Jul 15 '13 at 15:21

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