English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When should I use from?


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?

share|improve this question
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".

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

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.