Here is a quote from Wikipedia's page on "Made of Honor" movie (as it was on January 9th, 2011):

When questioned about Tom's sudden departure shortly before the wedding is to take place, Hannah informs Colin that Tom is just afraid of losing her. On the way home, Tom realizes that he must stop the wedding and goes back on horseback. Just when the priest asks for objections, Tom is sent flying off his horse and through the chapel doors. Seeing her best friend on the floor, Hannah rushes to him.

Is it clear for native English speakers from this passage that Tom's horse bumped into something (it was a fence around the chapel), so this was the reason why he was sent flying off his horse?

If I were to read this passage for the first time (without having previously watched the movie itself), I would definitely be puzzled as to why Tom was sent flying off the horse. But, perhaps, this expression ("sent flying off the horse") automatically implies to native speakers that the horse must have bumped into something.

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    BTW, as a general rule, you shouldn't treat sections on Wikipedia written by random anonymous volunteers (especially plot sections, which are among the worst on Wikipedia) as examples of good English style (or grammar, vocabulary, spelling, anything). Jan 9, 2011 at 12:04
  • When did I use it as an example of good English style?
    – brilliant
    Jan 9, 2011 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


"was sent flying" implies "was sent flying by [some agent]". Something caused him to be sent. I think a verb generally implies a subject object relationship. If either the subject or object are not mentioned explicitly, it is implicit that both exist.

perhaps, this expression ("sent flying off the horse") automatically implies to native speakers that the horse must have bumped into something.

It does not automatically imply that to this native speaker. The horse may have stopped abruptly due to the appearance of a sheet of newspaper, blown by the wind. Tom may have been sent flying by an explosion of gunpowder in the nearby saloon.

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    I am quite confused by your answer. Was this phrase in Wikipedia correct then or not? Also, who could the agent in this phrase be? Could this phrase imply that he was pushed from horse by someone else running after him? Or could it imply that the horse herself shook him off her back (in which case the horse would be the agent). Also, there is no word "by" in this phrase, so does this phrase sound complete without "by" (like "I was really worried" or "I am scared")?
    – brilliant
    Jan 9, 2011 at 11:18
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    Don't worry, I am sure a better answer will be written soon!. In the quoted passage it is not clear to me what has sent Tom flying from his horse. It may be that Tom was sent flying from his horse by a collision of the horse with a fence, as you suggest. However the quoted passage doesn't provide any clue and the reader must guess or infer it from the wider context. The phrase is acceptably complete even though it leaves the cause unexplained. Jan 9, 2011 at 14:03
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    +1 @RedGrittyBrick - It is unclear from the context what caused Tom to be "sent flying off his horse". The horse may have stopped short for some reason. Momentum and poor horsemanship then propelled Tom from the saddle.
    – John Satta
    Jan 9, 2011 at 14:24
  • @John: thanks, I was just updating my answer with similar thoughts. Jan 9, 2011 at 14:27
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    @Dour: but why do you intentionally want to make it unclear who discourages passive constructs?
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 10, 2011 at 13:34

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