1. I burst out laughing.
  2. I burst out laughs.

Burst out is used as a verb here, and why people say "laughing" instead of a noun laughs?

You burst out laughing? Not laughs? Like in you spoke words, not wording.

  • 2
    Wasn’t this asked before? – Xanne Oct 20 '20 at 0:54
  • Jeez I don't even understand their question because of how it's phrased. Is that just me? – Will Oct 20 '20 at 1:01
  • Will, really? Is it that bad? – Joe Kim Oct 20 '20 at 6:54
  • Canned, yes, I asked a similar one, burst out laughing. And I got answers looking at it as a noun phrase, which makes sense in using laughing, but this is a sentence and "burst out" part is a verb, not an adjective. – Joe Kim Oct 20 '20 at 6:57
  • The similar question is now closed. This is a more succinct version of that one. – Andrew Leach Oct 20 '20 at 8:33

This is what I like about ELL: I get to perceive a very familiar thing from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with it.

The verb phrase burst out has a transitive and an intransitive usage.

Transitively (with a direct object) it means to suddenly display something. The imagery is that the object in its container and you pull it out so quickly, you destroy (burst) the container.

This usage is quite casual so you almost always hear the more casual form of the verb, pronounced and spelled bust used. So someone might say, “Time to bust out the big guns!”, meaning to deploy some very effective tool.

Intransitively (without a direct object) it means to make a sudden sound:

“What are you doing?” he burst out angrily.

As an intransitive phrase, it cannot take an object, but it can take an adverbial, so I burst out laughing or I burst out crying.

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