Run rings around / Run circles around

Discussion in 'English Only' started by verygoodgirl, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. verygoodgirl New Member

    persian
    I wonder if we can use this expression negatively?
    For example

    He was such a stealer who ran rings around all stealers.
    (I want to say that he was the most professional stealers)
     
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Well, it would be positive from a thief's point of view. :)

    We might say, "He was a thief who ran rings around other thieves." We don't normally use "stealer."
     
  3. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    He is such a good thief he could run rings round his fellow thieves.

    PS. Got distracted and Copyright got there first. :)
     
  4. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    I think the tense is mixed-up there, boozer.

    Either:
    He is such a good thief that he can run rings round his fellow thieves.
    Or:
    He was such a good thief that he could run rings round his fellow thieves.

    I guess it depends what the OP wants to say. Hope that makes sense.
     
  5. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Just to mention, also, that 'run rings' can be used in a different sense too. Informally, it could mean something like 'to make desperate efforts to achieve something', as in this lovely song by Duran Duran:
    Fools run rings to break up something they'll never destroy...
    http://www.elyrics.net/read/d/duran-duran-lyrics/notorious-lyrics.html


    Yes, Perpend, thank you, I saw that but I left it that way because:
    1. He is such a good thief that he can run rings round his fellow thieves.
    2. He is such a good thief that he could run rings round his fellow thieves. - means almost the same as your version but 'could' makes it sound less certain
    3. He was such a good thief that he could run rings round his fellow thieves. - as you say, same as 1 but in the past tense.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013

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