Someone told me "fall silent" is an observation. "Remain silent" is a choice.


Mary fell silent for a few seconds. (Here we are observing Mary's action)

Mary remained silent for a few seconds. (Here we're showing Mary's decision)

Is this correct? Or do the two sentences imply the same thing?

  • 1
    Both falling and remaining silent can be an observation or a choice. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


The explanation that you received doesn't make sense to me.

Falling silent is going from a state of not being silent to a state of being silent.

Remaining silent is what is sounds like - i.e., continuing to be silent.


The first sentence shows how Mary went from making noise to becoming silent, which shows the action of her falling silent and her choice/decision of being silent.

The second sentence shows her remaining silent, showing her choice of making no sound, but yes there is not really an action here that Mary made, but some may view "remaining silent" as an action. Either way both sentences imply different meanings.

  • 2
    We do not know that she was 'making noise'; we only know that she was producing sound. Most likely she was speaking, although I suppose singing was possible, or a mixture. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 8:04
  • If she was shouting, screaming, ululating, etc, then maybe she was 'making [a] noise'. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 11:43

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