Megan fell off her bike, hurt___ her leg.

Should it be hurt or hurting?

My mind goes to hurt, however it seems like there are different rules in participles for example;

Hearing the news, she fainted.

  • 1
    The non-finite clause "hurting her leg" is correct. A finite clause would typically require a coordinator, as in "Megan fell off her bike and hurt her leg"
    – BillJ
    Apr 28, 2019 at 11:07
  • @BillJ: I think you have missed (as I did at first) that "hurt" can also be the passive participle of the verb.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 28, 2019 at 11:13
  • @ColinFine Did I? I don't see a passive interpretation of the OP's example. The gerund-participial "hurting her leg" is an adjunct that has a resultative interpretation here.
    – BillJ
    Apr 28, 2019 at 11:20
  • @BillJ: No, but I can see how a non-native might see a passive interpretation, hence my guess that the OP was suggesting hurt as a PP, not as a finite form - see my reply.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 28, 2019 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


I can see why this is confusing. The relevant distinction between the participles is whether they are active or passive, and you think that since Megan has been hurt (passive), the passive participle hurt is more appropriate here.

The problem is the object "her leg". A passive particple cannot take an object.

You could say "Megan fell of her bike, hurt", but there is no way to attach "her leg" to that. "Megan fell off her bike, hurt in the leg" is grammatical, but I don't find it very natural.

It might seem odd to use the active participle "hurting" when it is she that got hurt, and she didn't do so intentionally; but we use the verb "hurt" this way often in English: "I hurt my leg". "She hurt her hand". "He hurt himself": all of these do not imply intention.


Purely between the two exact sentences presented as options, only one of them is grammatical:

✔ Megan fell off her bike, hurting her leg.
✘ Megan fell off her bike, hurt her leg.

However, more analysis is possible.

Much of how this is constructed, and what what sounds normal, depends on how you are interpreting hurt. Is it being used as a verb or an adjective? It's when it's used as a verb, and a second action, that hurting, and not hurt, would be used in the construction you have.

There are some constructions that would be grammatical:

Megan fell off her bike, hurting her leg.
Falling off her bike, Megan hurt her leg.
Megan fell off her bike, with her hurt leg.

You could even use the following:

Megan fell off her bike, her leg hurt.

Although ambiguous and open to several interpretations, it makes sense if you take it to be an elided form of one of two more complete sentences:

Megan fell off her bike, her leg [having been] hurt.
Megan fell off her bike, [with] her leg hurt.

(Typically, those missing words would be added back in for clarity.)

But using hurt in the exact construction you have wouldn't be considered normal:

✘ Megan fell off her bike, hurt her leg.

If I read that, I immediately want to add a conjunction between the comma and the second verb:

✔ Megan fell off her bike, and hurt her leg.

  • 1
    The two choices were ""hurt" " and "hurting". Guess which one fits!
    – BillJ
    Apr 28, 2019 at 15:18

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