I don't even know if "scratch" applies to both cases:

  1. I slice a (slightly) harder object on a (slightly) softer surface. It leaves an inwards scratch. The harder object is not damaged at all, but some material from the softer one is lost or merely displaced. Ex: a putty knife on putty, or a metal object on a potato, etc.

  2. I slice a softer object on a harder surface. It leaves a mark on the harder object, and the softer one "grinds" thus getting slightly damaged. Ex: Chalk on a chalkboard, a metal knife on a porcelain dish.

So, what should word these phrases?

  • The putty knife made a __________ on the clay block.
  • The knife made a __________ on the porcelain dish.

1 Answer 1


In your question, what is on top of the underlying surface doesn't matter since your question is about how the underlying surface is affected.

If a surface is soft, it can either be cut through or an indent or mark might be left on it

The putty knife made a indent on the clay block.


The knife left marks on the cutting board.

here If the underlying surface is very hard, where the substrate can not be affected, only the surface can be scratched

The knife made made a scratch on the porcelain dish.
The knife left marks on the porcelain dish.

here here


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