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  1. aachu's Avatar
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    #1

    Hit sb and hit at sb.

    Do the following two sentences mean the same?
    1. She hit him with a knife.
    2. She hit at him with a knife.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2
    They don't necessarily mean the same. In 2. she might not have actually hit him. The knife might not have made contact, but equally, it might have. In sentence 1. there is no doubt - the knife struck him.
    Note that we normally don't use "hit someone with a knife". You can stab, strike, attack ... someone with a knife. Note also that 'stab' implies contact and penetration of skin, 'strike' implies at least come contact, and 'attack' doesn't necessarily imply contact.

  3. aachu's Avatar
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    #3
    Thank you, Raymott. I came across this when I looked up the meaning of 'slash' at dictionary.com. The definition goes like this: if you slash at a person or a thing you quickly hit at them with something such as a knife. E.g., he slashed at her aiming carefully. Now this 'at' after 'hit' and 'slash' was something new for me. Doesn't sentence no. 2 (in the thread question) mean that she hit him at a distance? That is, she threw the knife at him from a distance. Sentence no. 1.clearly means that she actually stabbed him. That is, she hit him with a knife when she was (spatially) very close to him.
    Last edited by aachu; 13-Mar-2014 at 07:14.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by aachu View Post
    Doesn't sentence no. 2 (in the thread question) mean that she hit at a distance. That is, she threw the knife at him?
    No, it means what I said above.
    Sentence no. 1.clearly means that she actually stabbed him. That is, she hit him with a knife when she was (spatially) very close to him.
    Well, actually, no it doesn't. Have you heard of knife-throwers? A good knife-thrower could hit a person with a knife from many metres away. You have the meanings back to front.

  5. aachu's Avatar
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    #5
    Thank you, Raymott. I got it. Sorry I'm unable to like your post because there is no such option with your post. This is probably because I'm online through mobile, using UsingEnglish.com's Android app(?).

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    #6
    "Hit at" someone seems odd to me.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    "Hit at" someone seems odd to me.
    "They were having a fight, and he was hitting at the other guy with a piece of wood." It may be a little odd, but it tends to imply that he might be missing some/most of the time. "To hit out at" is another possible phrase, although that is usually used for verbal attacks.

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    #8
    To me, if you "swing at" there is uncertainty about whether you hit the target or not.

    A hit is a hit.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    A hit is a hit.
    True, and a strike is a strike. But you can strike at a baseball without striking it. Hence, while "hit at" might sound a bit unusual, at least to me it has a function.

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    #10
    I am not a teacher.

    I looked in dictionary.com for the definition aachu mentioned but couldn't find it. I then re-read post #3 and it seems that the purported definition was of "slash at" rather than of "slash". It comes as no surprise that "hit at with something such as a knife" is part of the definition.

    "Slash at" is fine but I don't think I've ever said "hit at" myself.

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