When to use the two? Is the sentence "England is from where I hail" grammatically correct? (It sounds ok to me but it looks funny.) Or do I have to write "England is where I hail from"?

  • "I hail from England" would possibly be more common. – neil Nov 12 '13 at 16:03
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    It's a dated/poetic form. If you're not familiar with the usage, it's probably best to avoid it entirely and just stick with the standard "I come from England". – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '13 at 17:21

Both are grammatical, but the second is more usual. In general, this use of hail is not natural in normal everyday speech. It sounds as if the speaker is deliberately trying to make a statement sound less banal than it is, and not succeeding.

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    The more common way to say this would be "I'm from England". Both of the more 'formal' phrases are fine to use. Though some english teachers will tell you not to end a sentence with a preposition, the latter sentence DOES sound more natural, and outside of very picky English teachers, you won't find many complaints about it. – Zibbobz Nov 12 '13 at 15:22
  • In my experience it is one of those terms that is introduced by speakers to add a little colour and to avoid repetition of everyday expressions. 'Where does that new chap come from? Not sure, but from the way he speaks I should think he hails from Somerset, or the West Country somewhere'. It is one of those words which will make your speech sound a bit contrived if you overuse it. – WS2 Nov 12 '13 at 16:31

The term hail from is a phrasal verb

(hail from) have one’s home or origins in (a place): they hail from Turkey

It is almost always used in its exact form. While from where I hail would probably be understood by most, it would seem odd to most native speakers (at least in the US). This ngram shows an example of relative usage.

Even in its usual form, hail from is not very common in US English and would seem colloquial or archaic to most.

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    True. But the phrase where X hail(s) from is also fixed and frequent, so the order of hail and from isn't as crucial as it is with be from in *the place from which I am. – John Lawler Nov 12 '13 at 16:06

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