Out of/from; possible meanings of 'Where are you from?'

Out of/from; possible meanings of 'Where are you from?'

Postby Léopold on Tue May 01, 2012 8:43 pm

Dear Prof
1. I know we can say 'Take your books OUT OF your school bags.'. Is it also possible to say 'Take your books FROM your school bags.' with the same meaning?

2. For instance, firstly, if I meet an English man in Paris and ask him: 'Where are you from?' , his answer will be: 'I am from England.'. Secondly, if a Londoner meets, in London, somebody living in Manchester, and asks him: 'Where are you from?', the latter will answer: ' I am from Manchester.'
A. Does 'Where are you from?' not only mean 'Which country are you from?' but also 'Which town are you from?'?
B. Does 'Where are you from?' can also mean 'Which home town are you from?'

Thank you.

Re: Out of/from; possible meanings of 'Where are you from?'

Postby prof on Fri May 04, 2012 6:02 am

In this context 'take your books out of your bags' has the same meaning as 'take your books from your bags' -or indeed the same meaning as 'take your books out from your bags'. This is because taking the books from the bags involves taking them out, so each preposition is equally valid. Note though that the two words are not synonyms because you can take books (for example) 'from' a shelf when you cannot take them 'out'.

When you ask 'Where are you from?' the usual convention is to answer with the first place that you and the questioner do not have in common. So if an American asks an Englishman this question, he might answer 'I am from Europe'. If a Frenchman (who is also in Europe) asks the question, the answer might be 'I am from England', all the way down to one Londoner asking another 'Where are you from?' and getting the answer 'Clapham Junction.'

Note however, that this question is to be considered in context. 'Where are you from?' might mean 'You are away from home. Where is that home?' but also 'You are at home here now, but where did you come from originally?' If you are not sure which question is being asked, the usual response is to answer both. E.g. 'I live in Nebraska now, but I am originally from Scotland.'
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