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"By accident" or "By an accident"?

When something happens accidentally, do you say it was...  

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brilliant naoki    0

When something happens accidentally, do you say it was "by accident" or "by an accident"? I used to think it was always "by accident" and corrected people when they said "by an accident", but I've heard a lot of "by an accident" lately that it's made me wonder which is right.

Sorry this is my first time making a poll and post preview doesn't let me preview it, so if it's ugly it's not my fault :(

EDIT: Sorry I should probably make a clarification; which of the following would you say?

"I dropped the glass by accident."

"I dropped the glass by an accident."

Edited by brilliant naoki

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John S.    359

null...I usually say an accident.

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PL_    19

I would say "by accident", as in doing something in the described way of an accident. "By an accident" would be if an accident was a real being that performed the act.

null...I usually say an accident.

Oh yeah, good point :pinch:

"It was an accident!"

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sonrah    1

It depends on how you structure you sentence really.

"I didn't mean to run over your dog, it was an accident."

"I ran over your dog by accident."

"By an accident that wasn't anyone's fault, jane's dog ended up dead."

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DigitalE    10

I've never heard anyone say "by an accident."

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vincent    154

Probability ;)

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Colin-uk    134
I've never heard anyone say "by an accident."

Same here, i say by accident.

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Laura    146

I've never heard "by an accident" either, sounds like something someone might say if English wasn't their first language.

I saw "it was an accident" or "it happened by accident" depending on context.

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Mathachew    149
It depends on how you structure you sentence really.

"I didn't mean to run over your dog, it was an accident."

"I ran over your dog by accident."

"By an accident that wasn't anyone's fault, jane's dog ended up dead."

Hit any dogs lately...?

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metallithrax    522

"I bumped into you by accident"

"I killed your cat by accident"

I have never heard "by an accident" in any context.

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herbicious    0

^^ Same here. I'd say it by accident. ;)

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sonrah    1
Hit any dogs lately...?

Never hit a dog actually.

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Jeston    400

Add me to the list of people who have never heard "by an accident"

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Samboini    0

What about accidentally? i.e. "Sorry I accidentally ejaculated on you."

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Valerus    1

Better yet...

How about this rule:

By accident is correct.

On purpose is correct.

How about by purpose or on accident?

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gigapixels    99
What about accidentally? i.e. "Sorry I accidentally ejaculated on you."

Wonderful example :laugh:

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ahfunaki    0
What about accidentally? i.e. "Sorry I accidentally ejaculated on you."

hah, wow...

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brilliant naoki    0

Sorry I should probably make a clarification; which of the following would you say?

"I dropped the glass by accident."

"I dropped the glass by an accident."

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gigapixels    99

First choice.

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Jeston    400
Sorry I should probably make a clarification; which of the following would you say?

"I dropped the glass by accident."

"I dropped the glass by an accident."

My post still applies, as do all the others I'm sure. I've never heard "by an accident" spoken by a single person, not even a drunk person.

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Samboini    0

First.

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BlueFlame    1

By accident.

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Olemus    18

By an accident is what the idiots at my university say.

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Yorak    416

By accident. Next time you hear somebody say "By an accident", take them out. They're probably French. :shiftyninja:

I kid, I kid.

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dud    0

Survey says: better than 98% of English speakers agree (at the moment of this writing :))

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