"He asked me why I did it and was dumbstruck for a second."

What I am trying to say is that he was dumbstruck for a second after asking me why I did this. But I see that there is a possibility of people interpreting this sentence as saying that why I did this and was dumbstruck for a second was the question he asked. So, is this a correct sentence and contains the meaning I am intending to have, or is it somehow just inevitably interpreted as the second meaning?


Searching around, I found a possible solution to this. Putting a comma seemed to be a good idea.

"He asked me why I did it, and was dumbstruck for a second."

Now, does it mean what I make it mean?

  • What do you mean by numb?
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 20, 2015 at 0:13
  • Struck by shock. Sep 20, 2015 at 0:15
  • You probably want to say dumbstruck or nonplussed or some synonym from that constellation; numb strikes my ear wrong. Also, determiners are one of the trickiest and most annoying aspects of English; we wouldn't really say "he asked me why I did this", we'd much more likely say that or it.
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 20, 2015 at 0:18
  • Presumably he was only dumbstruck after he heard your response to his question. Something like “He was dumbstruck for a second when he asked me, and I’d told him, why I’d done it.
    – Jim
    Sep 20, 2015 at 1:07
  • I think it's more likely that "he was dumbstruck for a minute, then he asked me why I did it."
    – mkennedy
    Sep 20, 2015 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


The sentence might mean what you intended, but the usage is very strange. Ordinarily, a person is dumbstruck by a specific event, such as a revelation of information, and the reason for being dumbstruck is considered important enough to be mentioned immediately - probably in the same sentence.

Having asked you a question, one would expect that he would not speak until you answered his question, so silence on his part is expected. He might be dumbstruck by your answer, but not before you gave it. So I don't think that "dumbstruck" is an appropriate word under the circumstances.

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