If you go on letting your dog chase cars he will be killed by being run down one day.

Is the by used in the above sentence correct? This sentence is from an error spotting exercise as per the answer key it is suggested to replace run down by run over but I don't think run down is wrong here as it also means to get killed by car although there is nuance(between run over and run down). The reason I think by is wrong here because in another sentence I read of similar construction, by wasn't used before being . The sentence was:

I am glad to hear that you narrowly escaped being run over yesterday.

2 Answers 2


The Cambridge dictionary says "run over something" and "run down something" are American English, while "run something down" is British English, so I suspect usage is more regional than meaningful. In California we say "run over" while other parts of the country might use "run down", but otherwise they both mean the same thing.

"Killed by being run down" does not sound natural to me. I would instead say "run over and killed" or simply "run over" since that often implies mortal injury.

If you continue to let your dog chase cars he's going to get run over some day.


You'd have to ask whoever created this exercise, I think, because from a grammatical and usage perspective, I see nothing purely wrong with it, other than a missing comma after "cars." It is excessively wordy and ought to be rewritten (Andrew's rewrite is much better), but you said that wasn't the answer they wanted.

Although it sounds weird, the "by" is technically correct in the exercise but not in your other example. Escaped is taking "being run over" as a direct object. If you said you escaped "by being run over," it would mean you'd escaped something even worse by getting run over. But "being run down" isn't the direct object of "killed."

I suppose in subtle nuances of meaning, I'd be more likely to say the dog would get run over while chasing cars. I'd probably only say a car ran my dog down if my poor dog was sitting politely on the sidewalk, and a driver swerved and killed my dog on purpose. But I wouldn't go so far as to say "run down" is flat-out wrong here.

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