knock her down(deliberately or accidentally)

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ridgemao

Senior Member
Chinese - Mandarin
Hello:


A little girl played outside, suddenly her farther heard that she was crying, so he went outside and asked his daughter: "What is wrong with you?" The little girl answered: "That boy knocked me down, I am hurt. "


In this context, does "knocked me down" have two meanings? Is it ambiguous here?
1, That boy punched her and knocked her down(deliberately).
2, That boy ran and bumped into her and knocked her down(accidentally).


Thanks.
 
  • chfattouma

    Senior Member
    Tunisian Arabic
    Here the sentence does not convey intention by any means. It does however emphasize the outcome of the boy's action, which is the little girl having been knocked down.
     

    tmst5f

    Member
    English - USA
    In contrast to ch's opinion, I would say that yes, it is ambiguous here. I would suggest that the phrase "Knocked down" can have either meaning, and is often specifically used to avoid saying which one the speaker meant to refer to. Similar to your example, children will say this when if they are knocked down by accident, to imply that the other child might have done it on purpose (even if they know that this is not true).

    This is just what I think about the usage--I would love to hear someone else's opinion.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In this context, does "knocked me down" have two meanings? Is it ambiguous here?
    1, That boy punched her and knocked her down(deliberately).
    2, That boy ran and bumped into her and knocked her down(accidentally).
    Yes, it's ambiguous, and there are more possible meanings than you've listed. For example: The boy may have thrown a ball, which hit her and knocked her down (whether he meant to hit her with it, or he intended for her to catch it). Or the boy may have been riding his bike and (whether accidentally or deliberately) he rode into her and knocked her down.

    He father (not "farther") can't know, from what she said, exactly what happened. All he knows is that she was knocked down and she believes that something the boy did was the cause.
     

    akhooha

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Yes, it's ambiguous, but only insofar as you don't know whether it was deliberate or accidental.
    That said, your statement
    That boy punched her and knocked her down(deliberately)
    doesn't follow at all. A person can be knocked down without being punched.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    To me "knocked her down" sounds a little more likely to be deliberate. If someone is knocked into accidentally, I'd say "knocked over":"He ran into me accidentally with his bike and knocked me over."
     
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