water was spilled (unintentional)

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epistolario

Senior Member
Tagalog
Let's say you forgot to put the lid of a bottled water and it fell on the floor. Now the floor is wet and you will need to explain why. Please confirm if you can say water was spilled even though it was unintentional:

- Sorry, my bottled water fell on the floor and water was spilled.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Spill" never implies intention, and "I spilled some water" or "some water was spilled" would both be taken to refer to an accidental spillage. However, using the passive voice does suggest you are trying to escape any blame for it happening. It is particularly suspicious with a verb like "spill", when you don't need to use the passive voice at all.

    "Spill" is one of a number of unusual verbs in English where it does not really matter what the subject is:
    I spilled some water from the bottle.
    Some water spilled from the bottle.
    The bottle spilled some water.​

    Therefore, in your sentence, rather than use the passive voice, you would do better to use the bottled water as the subject of the verb in the active voice:
    ...and spilled some water.​

    Finally, there is no need to say "bottled water" if you are also going to say that water was spilled. "My bottle" is clear enough.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Let's say you forgot to put the lid of a bottled water and it fell on the floor. Now the floor is wet and you will need to explain why. Please confirm if you can say water was spilled even though it was unintentional:

    - Sorry, my bottled water fell on the floor and water was spilled.
    Your sentence is grammatically correct and perfectly understandable. It doesn't sound idiomatic but it conveys the meaning.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Chas is right. We probably wouldn't even use spilled in that sentence. Since the floor is wet we know a spill occurred. The only question is the cause.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Some typical versions:

    - Sorry, my bottled water fell on the floor and water went everywhere.

    - Sorry, my bottled water fell on the floor and soaked the carpet.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Spill" is one of a number of unusual verbs in English
    They are ambitransitive, alternating accusatives, demonstrating causative alternation - my wife and I discuss little else - I'm sure it's the same in your house... :D
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Why is the floor wet?
    I dropped my water bottle on the floor and the cap wasn't on.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    They are ambitransitive, alternating accusatives, demonstrating causative alternation - my wife and I discuss little else - I'm sure it's the same in your house... :D
    Thanks for that, Paul. I was looking for an example of such a word recently and I could not think of one. The interweb was useless because I didn't know what term to search for.:)
     
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