2

For some reason, "slammed into" here sounds off to me. Does it sound OK to you? If it doesn't, please explain why.

It was not uncommon for those chimpanzees to die within just a few days of capture. Most of them were found with their heads slammed into the ground.

What other verbs can be used in place of "slam" to describe a movement of forcefully shoving one's head into the ground?

5

It does sound funny to me, so I'll explain why, but I think this usage might be unremarkable to other native speakers.

When I hear slammed into, I think of a momentary action with no duration, but in this example, the verb appears to be describing a continuous state that was entered into when the slamming occurred. That is, it sounds like they were slammed into the ground (which is fine), but then stayed slammed into the ground (which is odd, at least to me).

I reviewed the first 100 results for slammed into on COCA, and all of them were used in the way I expected (as a momentary action, not as a change of state). Although that doesn't mean this usage is wrong, it does provide some support for the idea that this isn't how slammed into is usually used.

My conclusion? It does sound funny to me, but my feeling isn't strong enough to call it "wrong".

  • 1
    +1, my thoughts exactly. It sounds like the writer is trying to use "slammed" to describe the state of being squashed on the ground (I'm picturing smashed monkey heads here, it's not a pretty sight!) which sounds odd to me. I did understand what they meant right away, though, so I'm with you that it isn't terribly wrong. – WendiKidd May 24 '13 at 20:40
  • Thank you! I had a feeling this might be why I found something odd about it. Do you think "rammed into" would be a better fit here? – Soulz May 25 '13 at 10:36
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    @Soulz I think the same weirdness is present there; when something is slammed/rammed/smashed into something, that is an instantaneous action, there and gone in the blink of an eye. I wouldn't come back later on and say that they are still "rammed into" something. I'd prefer to rewrite the sentence entirely, into something like Most of them died from having their heads slammed into the ground. This means the slamming took place once and killed them, but doesn't imply the heads are still 'slammed'. But as snailplane says, it's not necessarily wrong to write it as it was originally. – WendiKidd May 25 '13 at 19:14
  • For some reason, I do not feel the same weirdness with "rammed into". I can't explain why though. I do think I have come across sentences similar to: "(poles/posts/stakes/sticks/) rammed into the ground" – Soulz May 26 '13 at 14:51
  • Oh by the way, in the original sentence, the writer is emphasizing the position in which the dead chimpanzees were found "with their heads shoved into the ground" not the cause of their death (slamming their heads onto the ground). – Soulz May 26 '13 at 14:55
1

One of the meaning slam as verb has is "to put, push or throw something into a particular place or position with a lot of force."

She slammed down the phone angrily.

As phrasal verb, slam into (used as "slam something into something") means "to make something crash into something with a lot of force."

The car skidded and slammed into a tree.

The force of the explosion slammed me against the wall.

Using slammed in the your example is perfectly fine.

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