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I usually say it when I am supposed to describe something coming from front on roads. But somehow it does not feel natural even though it syntactically it is correct. so what is the natural expression for this?

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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, tchrist, Hugo, Daniel, Matt Эллен Dec 4 '12 at 10:47

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I'm not clear exactly what you mean - approaching traffic, perhaps? In the UK one might recommend to pedestrians that they should walk on the right side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic. –  FumbleFingers Dec 3 '12 at 14:34
    
It's not syntactically correct. It's missing a few words: "Something was coming from the front on the road". The words in bold make the sentence grammatically & syntactically correct (but not good). However, it has no context & it's not easy to picture what's happening. Are you in a car, standing on the side of the road, walking down the middle of the road? What's going on? Is this something that's coming something like Godzilla or maybe a truck or a motorcycle? No one can answer your question because it's not clear enough what you're asking. Give more details, please. –  user21497 Dec 3 '12 at 15:06
    
In the context, ahead fits better than from front : "... moving at a snail's pace with the opposing traffic coming ahead;" "... the driver was taking a risk to overtake in such dangerous spots where he could not see the traffic coming ahead." –  Kris Dec 3 '12 at 15:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

From ahead works; ahead means 'the direction toward which body motion or gaze are aligned' (these are normally the same, and both associated with the head ends of mammals). Likewise, from behind (associated with the other ends of mammals); both allow no article.

Front, however, like right, left, and back, needs some determiner to anchor it when used with a preposition. An article will do, or a possessive, which refers to the object or person with a front/back orientation

  • from the front/back
  • from the front/back of the building
  • from its front/back

Of course some objects don't have front/back orientation, so you can't refer to

  • *the front/back of the traffic circle
  • *the front/back of the tree

And only objects with front/back orientation can have left/right orientation

  • the front/left side of the car
  • *the front/left side of the tree

unless it's with reference to an observer's viewpoint

  • It jumped out at her from the back of the tree. (i.e, 'the back' as she observed it)

For details, see the Space and Deixis I lectures here.

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Do you mean a situation as in a traffic jam, for example, with "some strange noise coming from..." Hm, "from ahead" I think.

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