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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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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.