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He (driver) went off the road and crashed into a field.

  • Would "into" be the correct preposition here?

  • Does "crashed into a field" sound odd or is it completely natural?

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    If the vehicle came to rest in the field, crashed into is fine. Jan 13 at 15:35
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    In AmE -- Planes crash into fields. Cars crash into light poles, fire hydrants, houses, and other cars. Crash usually means some type of damage is done to the car. Cars hit pedestrians, animals, and pot holes. Cars can also hit all things they crash into (except maybe a house) so long as there is little or no damage to the car. Jan 13 at 15:36
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    For this sentence to be correct, the car must get damaged while entering the field. I understand this sentence to mean the car either, "crashed (through a fence) into a field" or "(went downhill off the road and) crashed into a field (when the front of the car hit the field at an angle)."
    – gotube
    Jan 14 at 1:34
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    Can you edit the question to describe exactly what is happening? Then we can tell you whether this sentence is good.
    – gotube
    Jan 14 at 1:35
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    "Crashed into" seems natural to me, where the full situation is that the car drove off a road, through something like a fence or a hedge, and came to rest in a field. "Crashed in a field" suggests that it was being driven in the field in the first place (odd) and offers no explanation as to what sort of crash it was.
    – nigel222
    Jan 14 at 12:19

5 Answers 5

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The driver went off the road and crashed into a field.

As a native speaker the use of "into" in this sentence does not strike me as odd, but may suggest that some details of the accident have been omitted.

  1. "The driver went off the road and crashed in a field."

    Changing "into" to "in" suggests that after reaching the field the car crashed into something else: the car was in the field when it crashed.

  2. "The driver went off the road and crashed (through a fence, through some trees, through a ditch) into a field.

    This combination of "crash" and "into" suggests that a) the car crashed through something and continued into the field before stopping.

  3. "The driver went off the road, careened down a slope, and crashed into a field."

    In this scenario the field is the thing the car crashed into: its angle to the horizontal was such that the front of the car dug into the ground before the wheels could level the car out.

The basic "crashed into a field" construction leaves open the question of what actually happened but "crash" definitely suggests the car suffered damage, and "into a field" is consistent with "went off the road ... into a field.

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  • To me, "crash into a field" makes it sound like what the car impacted was the field itself, rather than something in the field. Which sounds distinctly odd when referring to a vehicle that was already in contact with the surface before crashing, as opposed to something like an airplane that started out above the field and then impacted the ground.
    – Vikki
    Jan 14 at 22:09
  • @Vikki "crashed into a field" can carry the sense of "the course of the crash took the driver and vehicle into a field". This could also be conveyed by "The driver went off the road and crashed his way into a field", or "The driver went off the road and ploughed into a field". To my ear "crashed in a field" would imply that the car crashed into some unstated thing located in the field.
    – traktor
    Jan 14 at 23:03
  • "Crashed into a field" does imply some omission of detail, but I agree that as a simple statement this would be far better at conveying in brief what happened. Crashing in a field, implies you got into the field intentionally, then accidentally hit something once there. It doesn't convey the 4 seconds of airborne panic the first version does. Jan 18 at 11:41
  • @gonefishin'again.: "Crashed into a field", when the thing doing the crashing is a ground vehicle, doesn't convey "4 seconds of airborne panic" either; it just sounds silly, unless there is mention of the vehicle having gone off a cliff or somesuch beforehand. Colloquially, "crashed into a field" is usually used for airplanes; what sounds right for a car, at least to AmE ears, would be something more like "the car went off the road and crashed in a field".
    – Vikki
    Jan 18 at 23:57
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No, I do not think into is correct. The better preposition would be in.

As EllieK said in a comment, we use into when the vehicle strikes some other object, usually a stationary object:

The car crashed into a fire hydrant.
The car crashed into a barn in the field.

A field is a very large place, not an object, so I would prefer The driver crashed in a field. This means the car did physically break, but only the location where that happened is specified. The object which caused it to break is not mentioned—it could have been a tree or a rock or a farm tractor or anything else that you would find in a field. It could also be that the act of leaving the road caused the car to flip over and it was destroyed simply by the act of hitting the ground, rather than crashing into any specific object.


Note however that we do use into when the person/animal/vehicle enters a place:

The driver went off the road and drove into a field, where he crashed.

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    I absolutely disagree with this interpretation. The crash started the moment the car left the road & finished when it came to a halt. Whether or not anything in the field was hit is irrelevant to the simple idea of "crashing into a field". The listener would assume the use of the word crashed meant the complete action did not involve breaking gently to a halt, putting on the turn indicators & safely navigating the gate, only to hit a haystack. You can only crash in a field if you were already there & even then would be far more likely to describe it as crashing into some definite object. Jan 18 at 11:35
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    @gonefishin'again - Driving off the road and coming to a halt is not a crash in any definition of the word. The crash does not start when the car leaves the road. That is merely opinion. The crash starts when the car collides with something - per the definition. Until then, no crash has occurred. You can say I crashed into a field. You can also say I crashed into a road. You can say it. The action you describe is I drove into a field. Without a subsequent crash you didn't crash there. Jan 18 at 16:13
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    OK, maybe I didn't explain myself clearly enough. I still claim categorically the OP's example cannot be replaced by "in". It makes no sense to say it that way. The 'crash' is the total event, it is not just the actual point of striking something. 'into a field' implies there was fence, hedge, ditch or all three that first had to be negotiated at speed & not via a recognised open gateway. The 'crash into a field' includes all the intervening barriers to normal entry, between road & final resting place. To 'crash in a field' removes the first half of the journey. It confuses the listener. Jan 18 at 16:24
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One other thing to keep in mind when structing sentences like this, is that the word crash itself has ambiguities due to it's additional meaning of "making a noise".

crash verb (MAKE A NOISE)
[ I or T, usually + adv/prep ]
to hit something, often making a loud noise or causing damage:

  • We could hear waves crashing on/against the shore.
  • Suddenly, cymbals crashed and the orchestra began playing.
  • A dog came crashing through the bushes.
  • Without warning, the tree crashed through the roof.

So the car could "crash into the field" and then keep driving. Whereas if you "crash in the field" it's a bit clearer that you mean you have had a crash in the sense of having an accident.

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There is a sense of omission of detail, which would be available on request from the person telling the tale, but is a perfect abbreviation of a sequence of actions resulting in a car rapidly leaving the road and coming to rest in a field.

"Crashed in a field" implies you were already in the field & accidentally hit something.
It in no way covers the four seconds of airborne panic the first version conveys.

The full story might be, very colloquially*, "I lost it on the corner - black ice, I wasn't going all that fast. The rear went from under me and I hit the ditch sideways. It flipped me over the fence and I ended up twenty yards across a ploughed field, the right way up. I managed to just walk away, for which I'm thankful, but the car's a write-off."
The teller wants you to know all the details, but he needs his headline first - "I crashed into a field."

*Colloquial British English.

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I would say that the car and driver crashed in the field, rather than crashed into it.

We say that a vehicle (or other mobile object) crashes into something when it physically collides with an object (often, but not necessarily, resulting in damage to one or both of the involved objects). In contrast, we say that something crashes in the location or general area where the crash occurred. Additionally, we use crashes at to specify where along its route of travel a vehicle crashes.

  • A car runs off the road and collides with a tree in a nearby field. The car crashed into the tree; it crashed in the field; it crashed at (for instance) milemarker 205.8.
  • An airplane goes out of control in the air and collides with the ground in a field below. The airplane crashed into the field (saying that it crashed into the ground would also be correct), as what it struck was the ground of the field itself, rather than a particular object in the field. The airplane also crashed in the field, as the crash took place within the confines of the field.
  • A car's steering fails on a mountain road, and it fails to negotiate a curve, runs off a cliff, and falls to the ground at the bottom of the cliff. The car crashed into the ground; it crashed in the mountain(s) where this happened; it crashed at the curve.
  • A train's brakes fail while it's approaching a station, and it runs through the buffer stops and demolishes the stationmaster's office before falling into the basement of the station building. The train crashed into the buffer stops, the stationmaster's office, and the station building; it crashed at the station.
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  • Colloquially, this is not the case. As explained in another comment above. Jan 18 at 11:37
  • @gonefishin'again.: Colloquially where you live, maybe.
    – Vikki
    Jan 18 at 23:52
  • @gonefishin'again.: Also, please do not downvote a useful answer just because you don't like how a native Anglophone learned the language.
    – Vikki
    Jan 18 at 23:59

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