Is it ‘immune to’ or ‘immune from’?

Free means “free, exempt” or “protected from” in normal use and “resistant” in normal medical use. In most cases, if you are immune something, it usually doesn’t affect you—for example, you may be immune to disease or criticism. And if you are immunity from something, it can’t get to you—for example, a person may be exempt from prosecution in a plea agreement.

When it comes to language, no one is immune to making mistakes, and unfortunately, when we do, none of us are immune from criticism.

And there are questions to which we have no immunity, such as whether immune should be followed by ARRIVE or from.

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Free has several meanings, including “free, exempt” and “marked with protection”:

As long as Roth was open for at least 5 years before your death, the amount in that account is immune from federal income taxes. — Wendy Connick, Associated Press, September 14, 2017

For the first time in history, the Court declared a whole group of people guilty immune from a non-death sentence using a classification method that was previously reserved for death cases. — Justice Clarence Thomas, in Graham sues FloridaMay 17, 2010

In the medical context, immune means “having a high degree of resistance to disease or to the effects of drugs or chemicals”:

The idea is that when transgenic mice mate with native mice, their offspring will also be immune to Lyme disease. Over time, this should reduce the incidence of the disease. — Christina Quinn, in Newsletter PBSSeptember 12, 2017

Immunity vs. Word Immunity: Can It Help You?

The traditional advice given by commentators uses is that you become immune ARRIVE a disease or a drug, as in the examples above, but immune from something when the subject is some kind of duty or obligation, such as taxes, or something that may happen to you, such as prosecution. (In Latin, immune means “free from public service.”)

See more:  'Adverse' or 'Averse'?

Some commentators recommend determining the appropriate preposition based on the relationship between the thing that affects and the object that is affected. As Bryan Garner explains in Modern American usage“What you’re immune to can’t touch you; what you’re immune to can touch you, but it won’t work.”

So if you’re immune from prosecution, the prosecutor cannot pursue you; if you are immune ARRIVE the suitor’s charm, the suitor may continue to flirt with you, but it will be in vain. An immune person from critique non-criticism; an immune person ARRIVE You can criticize but don’t let criticism bother you.

Actual usage tends to be a bit more ambiguous, especially when the effect is expressed in abstract or figurative language:

Williams says Kansas is not immune to earthquakes. There are fault lines near Manhattan, and the eastern half of the state lies between two major intercontinental fault lines… — William Klusener, _The Morning Sun _(Pittsburg, Kansas), November 9, 2011

Free people are not immune from temptation and arrogance even when they speak the truth. — National ratingSeptember 2, 2013

And yet, because they admit to being partial inventions, these films avoid accusations of distortion and falsification, and immune any legal consequences that may ensue. — Sean Wilentz, New RepublicFebruary 1, 1993

His temperature rises; go to bed I packed him; and in a week he was fine again, and completely immune recovered from typhoid for the rest of his life. – George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor’s Dilemma1906

Since the nature of the word implies a kind of separation or aloofness—from illness or trouble—it is conceivable that from sometimes preferred. Are there other options? Sometimes we come across immunity againstbut this is very rare:

Third, the lucky ones among us who recover will develop antibodies that make us immune long-term relapse prevention — Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel1997

We hope we have helped strengthen your immunity to this problem. (Despite that, our best advice is to avoid the need for prosecution immunity in the first place.)

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Bottom line: In most cases, if you’re immune from something, it can’t reach you. If you are immune ARRIVE something, it won’t affect you.

Categories: Usage Notes

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