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①The worst hit was the eastern part of Taihu Lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China.

②The worst hit was in the eastern part of Taihu Lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China.

Of the two examples above, which one is grammatically correct? I have googled this and it seems that both are OK.

I am very confused. Need your help, guys. Thanks a million enter image description here enter image description here

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2 Answers 2

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First of all keep in mind that news headlines are not always grammatically correct. The writers take liberties with the language trying to convey an eye-catching message in the shortest possible space.

Your two sentences, however, are both grammatically correct but they don't mean exactly the same thing:

The worst hit was the eastern part of Taihu Lake

This means that of all the places that were hit, the worst one was the eastern part of Taihu Lake.

The worst hit was in the eastern part of Taihu Lake

This means that Taihu Lake was hit and that of all the places on Taihu Lake that were hit, the worst was in the eastern part of the lake.

I'll admit that the difference between these two is quite subtle and generally you might see either one used interchangeably. You would likely need to read the entire article to understand exactly what happened.

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  • Yes. This should be interpreted as 'The worst part [that was] hit was the eastern part of Taihu Lake'. Sep 9, 2021 at 10:24
  • Isn't it an example of inversion? "hit" here is a verb rather than noun, right? So the original order of sentence No.1 should be: The eastern part of Taihu Lake was hit the worst. But if we do the same with sentence No.2, it will be like "In the eastern part of Taihu Lake was hit the worst". Is that still correct?
    – Joey
    Sep 9, 2021 at 10:37
  • The sentence "The eastern part of Taihu Lake was hit the worst" makes sense and it a valid reordering of the original. The second one, "In the eastern part of Taihu Lake was hit the worst" starting with the word "in" makes no sense here. You might say, "In the eastern part of Taihu Lake the damage was the most severe."
    – jwh20
    Sep 9, 2021 at 10:42
  • I think I didn't make myself clear. My point is, if the sentence is in inverted order, and if the sentence -"In the eastern part of Taihu Lake was hit the worst"- is wrong, then why "The worst hit was in the eastern part of Taihu Lake" can be considered grammatically correct?
    – Joey
    Sep 9, 2021 at 11:23
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I think you understand that hit can be either a noun ("It was a hit") or the past participle of a verb ("We were hit by a storm"). A participle can also be used as a participial adjective: a participle used like an adjective to describe something about a noun.

Hit is a confusing one because the noun and the participle are exactly the same. It would be easier to interpret if it were a noun or verb like smoke, because the participle smoked is clearly not a noun.

If we say "The worst hit was in eastern Lake Taihu", this can be interpreted in several ways:

  1. There were multiple "hits". The worst one of these hits was within eastern Lake Taihu.
  2. Of the things we have already mentioned, the most severely impacted was within eastern Lake Taihu. (Eastern Lake Taihu was not impacted itself, it just contains the thing that was impacted.)

But if we say "the worst hit was eastern Lake Taihu", it can only mean

  1. Of the things we have already mentioned, the most severely impacted was eastern Lake Taihu. (That is, eastern Lake Taihu is one of the things that was impacted.)

You have to use context to decide which one is correct. Are we talking about "hits" as a noun, or was eastern Lake Taihu hit, or was something within eastern Lake Taihu hit?

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