delacroix01 said:My first question is about the basic meaning of ～に当たる. Does it mean "to hit something" or "to be hit by something"? It's confusing that the sites I found say "的に当たる = to hit the target / mark", yet they also say "弾に当たる = to be hit / struck by a bullet".
Second, assuming it was the former case, can I say ～が弾丸に当たった to mean that something hit a bullet?
Như vậy 当たる tương đương với "trúng" trong tiếng Việt (nói trúng đích cũng đúng mà trúng tên hay trúng đạn cũng đúng). Do đây là 1 trong số ít những cặp động từ có nghĩa đen giống hoàn toàn so với động từ tương đương trong tiếng Việt nên tớ post luôn để nếu có gặp thì khỏi thắc mắc.Smith said:「～～に当たる」 can surely mean both of what you said. I have never even thought of this until today but I could sort of understand your confusion, which I feel arises from "translation", which is what bilingual dictionaries are based on.
Think of it this way for a moment. For a thing/person to hit another, both are involved as they must touch each other. A bullet can hit a person and a person can "hit" a bullet, but because it sounds incorrect and/or unnatural to say in English "I hit the bullet." in the active voice, they say "I was hit by a bullet." in the passive voice. This is the problem (and the limitations) with bilingual dictionaries. For the sake of giving natural-sounding definitions and sample phrases, bilingual dictionaries often tend to go rather freely, in their explanations, between transitive and intransitive verbs and active and passive voices.
And yes, you could say ～が弾丸に当たった to mean that something hit a bullet. You can also say ～～を弾丸に当てた.