1. The bird dropped because it got hit by an arrow.
  2. The bird dropped because the arrow hit it.

I'd like to know if both the sentences are grammatical.

  • 2
    Both are grammatical. There might be a slight difference in meaning: the second sentence uses the with the word "arrow". – CowperKettle Feb 19 '16 at 11:23
  • 2
    an arrow means you don't know specifically which one; the arrow means you know which one you're talking about. – Alejandro Feb 19 '16 at 11:54
  • @Ustanak - That's one possible differentiation, but it's not the only one. There's more to it than just that. – J.R. Feb 20 '16 at 0:01

it got hit by an arrow.

the arrow hit it.

The first sentence is a get- passive where get=be, whereas the second sentence is active. Both are grammatical.


Both sentences are grammatical, but this begs the question of why you would choose one construction over the other. The difference between them (the versus an aside) is one of style.

The bird dropped because it got hit by an arrow.

This is in the passive voice. This conveys a simple statement of fact, explaining why the bird dropped. Passive voice is generally used for descriptions or statements, and can come across as dry.

The bird dropped because the arrow hit it.

Using the active voice better conveys a sequence of events and shifts focus to the action. What happened? Someone shot the bird, dropping it! Use active voice to engage the reader/listener and draw them in.


It got hit by an arrow.

The arrow hit it.

The sentences, though grammatically correct, are different in meaning.

First off, the use of the indefinite article "an" in front of arrow in the first sentence indicates a non-specific arrow, whereas the definite article "the" before arrow in the second sentence indicates a specific arrow.

Second, the first sentence is in the get passive. You use the verb "get" instead of "be" to form the passive in spoken and informal writing. On the other hand, the second sentence is in the active voice.

If you want to form these sentences to convey the same meaning, you should use either "an" or "the" in both sentences.


Both are grammatical, but...

From Strunk's Elements of Style, which was a required reference when I was in school (guess that dates me):

Use the active voice.

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:

  • I don't think "an arrow hit it" is in any way more direct and vigorous than "it got hit by an arrow". Both versions are studiously avoiding any mention of who the archer was, which would be the one bit of information that could possibly make the sentence "direct and vigorous". – Martha Feb 19 '16 at 23:58
  • I don't think the bird really cares who the archer was. My point is, that if you can add the phrase "by the arrow", than the why use passive voice? We normally would use passive when we don't know or don't care what agent performed the action. It's like I say "I got mugged!" If I knew who the mugger was I would be hunting him down. – Cascabel Feb 20 '16 at 0:02

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