"Il s'est cassé l'épaule en tombant à vélo."
Translation:He broke his shoulder from falling off his bike.
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The original French sentence essentially means "he broke his shoulder becase he fell down while riding his bike"
The phrase "à velo" is not directly connected to the fact that the fell down (fell off the bike) but just describes the means he was using when he fell down (he was riding a bike).
It's the same phrase used e.g. Il va au travail à vélo = he goes to work by bike.
Personally it's not how I would say it. You might get sick from eating bad seafood but you hurt yourself falling off a bike or by falling off a bike.
You can use "fall from" something, such as: "The child fell from the tree."; "He fell from the roof."; "I fell from the ladder." But, "fell off/fell off of" is also used. "He fell off the roof"; "I fell off the ladder"; or "I fell off of the ladder."; "My daughter fell off her bike."
That's right, but I think that Anne was asking about "from falling", not about "falling from". In DL's translation, the preposition "from" connects "he broke his shoulder" with "falling off his bike". However, "from" is the wrong preposition! "By" and "while" work much better, or you can just say "He broke his shoulder falling off his bike". "From" works in some cause-and-effect situations where the cause led indirectly to the effect (as in eating bad seafood, as MertMort noted), but it doesn't work when the effect is immediate.
A question about the meaning of the original French sentence :
One does not actually have to fall off a bike to get hurt, one call fall while riding a bike and get hurt. In the latter case, in English, we might say "He hurt his shoulder when he fell cycling".
My question: Does the expression en tombant à vélo insist on the "falling off the bike", or can it mean something like "He fell while cycling and hurt his shoulder" (note, I am not offering this as a translation. I simply want to understand the meaning of the original phrase ).
You are right, "à vélo" means "cycling" or "using a bicycle".
So the most accurate translation is something like "He broke his shoulder by falling while cycling". Your version is good although "est cassé" specifically means to break rather than just hurt.
All the discussion about whether he fell "off" or "from" "a bike" or "his bike" is a bit misleading.
It’s natural English. We say he fell off his bike even if it was a rental bike. Nothing wrong with he fell off a bike though, just less likely to be said. But in French you don’t say either. It’s à vélo or de vélo.
Except in freak accidents, you don't break your shoulder while falling. You break it when you hit the ground as a result of falling. So it should either be from falling, or by falling, or just falling with no preposition. Meanwhile, the fall happened while riding a bike.
As for those freak accidents, I once dislocated my shoulder while inline skating without actually falling. I waved my arms so hard to keep my balance that my shoulder popped out. It was not fun.