Trying to say, he got down from his horse.

Which sentence is grammatically correct? And, why?

  1. He dismounted his horse.
  2. He dismounted from his horse.

Is there any difference if you were to replace 'dismount' with 'alight'?


Both sentences are correct. I think most fluent English speakers would use #1.

"Dismount" can be either a transitive verb, that is, taking an object; or an intransitive verb, that is, not taking an object. So as a transitive verb, you dismount something. Usually a horse, a motorcycle, or some such. Then no preposition is needed. "He dismounted his horse." As an intransitive verb, you just do it. "He dismounted." You can often add explanatory phrases to a sentence. In this case, adding the prepositional phrase "from his horse" is perfectly correct.

Suppose we had a verb which is only intransitive, like "died". (Sorry, for some morbid reason that's the first word that came to mind.) You can say "Bob died." You could add additional phrases, like "Bob died from a heart attack." But you couldn't say "Bob died heart attack", because "died" is intransitive, we can't tack an object on.

So while your two sentences mean the same thing, grammatically they are rather different. I presume most English-speakers use the form without "from" because it's shorter.

"Dismount" can also be used in a different sense: to remove something from it's position. If you say, "Bob dismounted the television from the wall bracket", now it is the television that is changing position and not Bob. You could also abbreviate such a sentence and say simply, "Bob dismounted the television." Anyone hearing or reading that would normally understand you to mean that Bob had removed the television from its position, not that Bob had been sitting on top of the television and now he got off. Of course, depending on context you might mean either one. "Bob decided to re-arrange items in the room. First, he dismounted the television." I'd assume that meant he removed it from a stand or bracket. "Bob climbed on top of the television to reach the top shelf. After retrieving the book from the shelf, he dismounted the television." I'd assume that meant that he climbed down.

It would be grammatically correct to say, "Bob dismounted his horse from the truck". But nobody says that, probably because of the confusion it would create with the idea of Bob getting off the horse.

  • I was going to comment on your answer but then my comment got too long, so I just wrote my own answer. – Jay Mar 29 '13 at 16:20
  • So, "He got down his horse." would also be correct? – Soulz Mar 31 '13 at 3:33
  • If you're trying to say that he was on the horse and dismounted, no. You could say, "He got down from his horse." If you're trying to say that the horse was on something -- a trailer perhaps -- and he got the horse off of that thing, then you would normally say, "He got his horse down." "He got down his horse" is arguably correct for the second case, but sounds very odd to me. But English-speakers DO say, "He got down a book" (from a shelf), though relatively rarely. Again, it's more common to say, "He got a book down." – Jay Apr 12 '13 at 16:06

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