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I have, to the best of my recollection, only ever used or heard:

He was bleeding from the arm.

... but my student informs me that she learnt it as:

He was bleeding at the arm.

The latter sounds a little off to me, but I couldn't tell you (or my student) why. I did a quick Google search, and found numerous instances of both. So my question: Are both usages interchangeable, or is there a subtle distinction I'm not aware of?

I'd especially like to know why the former sounds so much more "correct" to my ears, though I'm willing to accept that it is just me being weird.

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"Bleeding from" is definitely more common, and "bleeding at" sounds odd to me, but only because it's so much less familiar.

"At" would be slightly more precise for medical descriptions where the focus is on the patient and the location of their injury. In that context, you might reserve "from" for statements like "he was bleeding from an ulcer into his stomach" or "he was bleeding from his second to fourth ribs" (I'm not a doctor).

We tend to say "bleeding from" normally, because our focus is on the blood and where it's coming from.

  • That makes a lot of sense. My students is a doctor, so presumably she picked it up when learning medicine. Cheers! – David John Welsh Jul 3 '14 at 9:07
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Both usages are correct and understandable. The first usage is much more colloquial, so that is probably why it sounds better to you.

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