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leo malettдобавил заметку год назад

заметка (en-en)

Which is correct: "can tell from" or "can tell by"?


Обсуждение (10)

leo malettдобавил комментарий год назад

So they're mostly interchangable, thanks grumbler

grumblerдобавил комментарий год назад

Not sure - check the examples. Possibly, there is a slight difference.

•-<(||=ULY=||)>- •добавил комментарий год назад

As with everything, the difference lies in the context. In a passive scenario one where the speaker notices something without actively looking for it both forms are used, but FROM is more contextually appropriate: "I can tell FROM/by his eyes that he's been smoking." (=the speaker casually noticed that he'd been smoking when she looked into his eyes by chance).

However, when the speaker actively uses something as a gauge or indicator, BY expresses agency more readily than FROM: "I can tell BY looking into his eyes if he's been smoking." (=when I want to know if he's been smoking, I look into his eyes). The option FROM LOOKING would be incorrect here, although it's POSSIBLE if it's "shorthand" for FROM HAVING LOOKED: [doctor]: "I can tell from looking at your xrays last month, that you're developing glaucoma."

Finally, I think it's worth making a distinction here. You can tell something FROM EXPERIENCE, but BY INTUITION. Even a lot of natives get this wrong.

| Валерий |добавил комментарий год назад
However, when the speaker actively uses something as a gauge or indicator, BY expresses agency more readily than FROM:

Uly, what does 'agency' mean here?

•-<(||=ULY=||)>- •добавил комментарий год назад

Using something to achieve a particular purpose.

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