Is there a difference between these two, or is only one correct?

I shoot him. I shoot at him. She will shoot you. She will shoot at you.

How about these two?

The plane shot missiles at the base.


The plane shot the base at its weapons bunker.

  • 3
    If he shot it, he hit it. If he shot at it, maybe not.
    – Robusto
    Sep 27, 2013 at 0:23

2 Answers 2


He shot it explicitly states that he shot it (the bullet pierced the target). It also could mean that he fired a gun if it is representing a firearm.

He shot (fired) the gun (it).

He shot at it only has one meaning; it means that the gun was aimed and fired at a target. It doesn't give any indication of whether the target was hit or not. The difference is subtle, but they mean different things. You would definitely say shot at it if he missed.


In the first one. Both of them are correct grammatically, but the meaning slightly differs.

I shoot him., suggests a more definite outcome of the shot, that it hits the object (in this case a person, he). While, I shot at him, says nothing about whether the shot hit or missed, it just tells us that the subject (in this case, I) aimed to shoot at the object and fired.

In the second one, Only The plane shot missiles at the base. seems to be grammatically correct.

I think that this would be more appropriate. "The plane shot missiles at the weapons bunker on the base." or "The plane bombed the weapons bunker on the base.".

  • So, for a marksman, there is no difference between shot and shot at :^)
    – J.R.
    Sep 26, 2013 at 22:32
  • 1
    Yes - a better pair of sentences to contrast would be The archer shot at the weakest point of the dragon and The archer shot the dragon at its weakest point. Sep 26, 2013 at 22:34
  • 1
    @J.R. I would disagree, but I kinda need to make sure, you aren't one. :D
    – tmj
    Sep 26, 2013 at 22:35
  • @EdwinAshworth crystal clear contrast.
    – tmj
    Sep 26, 2013 at 22:36
  • @J.R. There is a split-second difference - or a bigger one if the target is using a force-field projectile deflector. Sep 26, 2013 at 22:37

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