I'm trying to understand the difference between to land and to ground. We use to ground to say that a plane stopped from flying (or taking off) due to some reason (e.g. engine troubles). Is it correct to say

The plane was grounded as the engine had crashed on the runway.

Is it grammatically correct and sounds OK?

  • It sounds like an engine fell off a wing and came to a complete stop on the tarmac.
    – lurker
    Jan 3, 2016 at 4:22
  • @lurker well, that's slightly different from what I meant, but OK as well. I was thinking about some engine troubles diagnosed during taking off, therefore preveting an accident. So is it grammatically correct and it's OK to say so? Jan 3, 2016 at 4:29
  • generally, grounding means that the plane is not functional and is incapable of flying. But you've put it on a runway, Technically its not flying, but it has attempted a flight. So this is a gray area.
    – Varun Nair
    Jan 3, 2016 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'grounded' as :

prohibit or prevent (a pilot or an aircraft) from flying.

So yes, your sentence construction sounds okay to me.

To be 'Grounded' means that the plane did not take flight and then landed back due to some problem. It means that the plane, on development of a technical problem or due to weather problems, did not even take off. But 'to land' means that a flight that has been in the air, no matter how long, comes back to the airport (or wherever), due to some fault or as a precautionary measure, or simply, on reaching its destination.

Also, a 'landed' plane can take off immediately, where as a grounded plane can only take off after the reason behind it has been resolved.
(Not that a faulty plane that has landed can take off immediately, but a plane that is fully-functional, which has landed, has the capability to take off again.)


Ground, when used as a verb, can mean general to keep attached to the ground or to disallow/prevent from leaving. (It's also the past participle of grind).

The term is used with aircraft and teenagers - a grounded teenager is not allowed to leave his/her room or house.

If a aircraft/teenager has already left, well, you failed to ground it, and your opportunity to ground it again won't be until the aircraft/teenager returns.

When an aircraft contacts the ground at the end of a flight, that is landing. If it can't fly again for some reason, then it is considered grounded.

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