Our teacher was telling us about a "murder" in our psychology class. So she said:

A man came from behind and stabbed a lady.

A man sneaked up from behind and stabbed a lady.

A man walked up to the lady from behind and stabbed her.

Do the bold words sound natural in this context?

  • Yes, to me they sound correct – Talha Israr Apr 22 '19 at 14:56
  • I have a slight issue with all of them. I would prefer to hear from behind her in some way, rather than conflating the pronoun with the second clause that follows. In some contexts you can just say from behind (when nothing else follows), but here it seems a little bit strange. At least to me. I'm sure it sounds normal to a lot of other people. So, it's not a problem. It's just that my personal choice would be to rephrase them slightly. – Jason Bassford Apr 22 '19 at 15:43

Aside from the debate whether it sounds better to say sneaked or snuck (more a question of dialect rather than grammar), they're fine.

Some writers might think these overly wordy though, as "stabbed from behind" pretty much includes the concept that the murderer approached the victim from behind, and caught her unawares.

The man stabbed her from behind, and vanished before anyone could get a good look at his face.

Naturally this depends on the situation. In a police report, for example, it might be important to explicitly say the murderer made no attempt at stealth:

According to witnesses, the suspect walked up to the woman from behind, without any indication he intended violence. He then proceeded to stab her one time in the chest before running away.

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  • And what about "came from behind"? Does it sound natural? And what about "he snuck up from behind and stabbed her"? Do both of them sound natural? – It's about English Apr 22 '19 at 15:27
  • So what do you think @Andrew? – It's about English Apr 22 '19 at 16:10
  • @It'saboutEnglish "Came from behind" is fine. – Andrew Apr 23 '19 at 7:34

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