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  1. She woke up when the plane was hit by turbulence.

  2. She woke up when turbulence hit the plane.

Do the two sentences mean the same? Are they equally natural?

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  • Another possibility: The plane hit/encountered turbulence. Jul 11, 2020 at 19:21
  • I would reserve 'hit by' for a situation when something actually struck the plane - a missile, bird, rock, part of another plane. Turbulence is just an air condition the plane flies through. Jul 11, 2020 at 20:07

2 Answers 2

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This is called "active or passive voice", and generally changes the emphasis of the sentence but not the meaning.

In your first sentence, the emphasis is on the plane, and the turbulence is a detail; in the second, the emphasis is on the turbulence, which is actively doing something.

A clear way of seeing the difference is that you can remove the second part of each sentence:

  1. "She woke up when the plane was hit" (the plane was hit by something, but we don't know what)
  2. "She woke up when turbulence hit" (the turbulence hit something, but we don't know what)

If you search online for "passive voice", you will find lots of discussions of its effects, and when to use or avoid it.

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Either is a correct way to express the thought. Though, in truth, aircraft fly through turbulence since the movements of the airmass and the aircraft are relative to each other.

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