traced back or traced back to

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hly2004

Banned
chinese
Hi, everyone:

The pioneering investigation can be traced back to 40 years ago.
The pioneering investigation can be traced back 40 years ago.

I wonder which one you would use.

Best wishes
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Both sentences sound strange to me because I can't see the point of using "to trace back" in this context. If it is known that the investigation took place forty years ago, it is more natural in my view to say The pioneering investigation was performed forty years ago.
     

    hly2004

    Banned
    chinese
    Hi, sound shift:
    My understanding is that "can be traced back to" (originated in) is used to imply "it is still in the process, not over".
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi, hly,

    If you want a way of saying that the investigation started forty years ago and is still under way, you should have said so in your original post: context is indispensable.

    Even in this context, I don't think "trace" is the right verb. My provisional suggestion is The pioneering investigation has been under way for forty years.
     
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