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I apologize if this has already been raised elsewhere. I was unable to find an answer to the question of when, if ever, it is acceptable form to include multiple uses of the word "from" in a single phrase. The example I have in mind can be seen in the following:

"He made every effort to steer himself as far in the opposite direction from where he had come from as he possibly could".

If the sentence is fine, cool. If not, any suggestions as to how it might be rewritten to correctly convey the same intended meaning? Thanks!

  • It is grammatical but awkward. I recommend recasting the sentence. – Anonym Jul 16 '14 at 20:43
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    @Anonym: It's certainly not grammatical, exactly for the same reason as neither is "From where did you come from?" – Armen Ծիրունյան Jul 16 '14 at 20:45
  • @ArmenԾիրունյան Each from plays a different role: where he had come from is the object of the first from. Remove one and the sentence doesn't make sense. – Anonym Jul 16 '14 at 20:49
  • @Anonym: I see your point, but I am not sure I agree. Do you mean to say that he could write "..the direction from from where he came" and have a grammatical, albeit clumsy, sentence? – Armen Ծիրունյան Jul 16 '14 at 20:50
  • @ArmenԾիրունյան Regular English syntax doesn't allow for it, but, with prepositional fronting, that is what you get. I myself would never say it. Whence would solve this problem altogether: the direction from whence he came. Too bad that it has gone out of vogue. – Anonym Jul 16 '14 at 20:55
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There are two problems with your sentence. The obvious one is the repetition of as. The double from is also ungrammatical, although you could leave either of the two occurrences.

He made every effort to steer himself as far in the opposite direction from where he had come as he possibly could.

or

He made every effort to steer himself as far in the opposite direction where he had come from as he possibly could.

The reasoning that the double from is ungrammatical is the same as with the following simplified example. You can say:

Where did you come from?

or

From where did you come?

But not

From where did you come from?

  • Thanks! I didn't even see the double "as". It's edited out now. I had a feeling it boiled down to being the same thing as "from where did you come from?". I see that more clearly now. – Joseph Jul 16 '14 at 21:27

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