hurt [transitive, intransitive] hurt (somebody/something/yourself) to cause physical pain to somebody/yourself; to injure somebody/yourself

He hurt his back playing squash.

Did you hurt yourself?

Stop it. You're hurting me.

My back is really hurting me today.

Strong light hurts my eyes.

My shoes hurt—they're too tight.

hurt [intransitive] to feel painful

My feet hurt.

Ouch! That hurt!

It hurts when I bend my knee.

hurt (adj) injured physically

None of the passengers were badly hurt.

so, when we say "I hurt my back" we may mean "I caused it" (maybe, I bumped my back on the edge of the table)

when we say "my back hurts" we don't know if I caused it or it is just my illness that caused my back hurt from the inside.

what about "I hurt on my back" or "I am hurt on my back"?

What are the differences between "I hurt my back", "my back hurts", "my back hurts me", "I hurt on my back", "I am hurt on my back"?

  • You are correct about the first two. Adding 'me' doesn't change the meaning. The last two are not idiomatic. "I am hurt on my back" could possibly mean that you have a wound there, but it would be more natural to say "I have a cut on my back" or similar. Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 12:24
  • I find that I sometimes say “my leg is paining me” (to explain why, for example, I postponed an errand). Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 4:57
  • There's definitely a subjective difference there somewhere. I think "hurting" just states neutrally that there is pain (usually the idiomatic way to express it), while "hurting me" emphasizes the effect the pain is having on you psychologically. Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 1:24

2 Answers 2


"Hurt" can be used as a transitive or intransitive verb. When used transitively, its meaning is usually similar to the verb "to injure."

I hurt my back. (= I injured my back.)

He hurt me. (= He caused an injury [possibly a psychological or emotional rather than a physical injury].)

This also works in the passive voice or as an adjective:

My back is hurt. (= My back is injured.)

But there are exceptions:

It hurt my back. (Ambiguous; could mean "It injured my back" or simply "It caused pain [but not necessarily an injury] in my back.")

Intransitively, the meaning is to suffer from pain.

My back hurts. (= I have pain in my back.)

The chair hurts. (= Sitting in the chair causes pain.)


“I hurt my back” or “my back hurts” is usually about pain caused by the spine in your back.

Now consider you are stung by a bee. In the arm, the leg, or the back. Here you could say “I hurt on my back”. Because it’s not a hurting spine.

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