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When should I use from?

Example:

His company suffered a setback. Vs His company suffered from a setback.

She suffered from a heart attack. Vs She suffered a heart attack

I realise that sometimes either is ok but are there any rules?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you use suffer with a direct object, you are generally referring to a single negative experience. For example:

She suffered a heart attack on her 80th birthday.

The company suffered a setback when its CEO resigned.

Suffer from, on the other hand, is generally used when referring to the continuing consequences of a negative event or experience:

For the last few years of her life she suffered from a heart attack that occurred on her 80th birthday.

The company suffered from the setback until things picked up 5 years ago.

The above are general principles for distinguishing the two terms, but there are counter examples in actual usage. For instance, this Google Ngram shows "suffered from poverty" as the more usual phrase, but not significantly more common than "suffered poverty".

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I had a feeling that it could be explained that way. Thanks Shoe. –  Shabasan Oct 26 '13 at 6:23

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