A car <runs><goes><drives><travels> on a road

Super Saiyan

Senior Member
Cantonese
Hi, for the below sentences, which one/ones are correct?

1. A car runs on a road.
2. A car goes on a road.
3. A car drives on a road.
4. A car travels on a road.

I believe no.3 and no.4 are right, but my friend says ‘a car won’t drive itself’, so I should say ‘a car is driven on a road’. And do we say ‘a car drives down a road instead of using on?’ Thanks
 
  • Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Hi, elroy, you are in a vehicle describing what you see to a child and a car is traveling on a road. And you want to say this as a fact.
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    I see. It means that none of the sentences are correct from 1 to 4 if we just look at the sentences according to English grammar?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    If you're talking about a specific car that is going down the road now, you can't use the simple present.
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Ok, let say I want to define what a car is, can I say ‘a car is a vehicle that [goes/runs/drives/travels]on a road.’ This might not be the most precise definition, but what I want to focus is the grammar of using ‘goes or drives or runs or travels’, which one/ones are ok and natural? Thanks
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, you would use the simple present in a definition. The choice or verb would depend on what exactly you were trying to say.
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Thanks, from what you see, all of the verbs used above are ok grammatically, they only depend on the contexts if I use them in simple present tense in a definition? The reason why I ask is that to me, it means a car can go/drive/travel/run on a road, these verbs are synonyms to me in this situation, there’s little or no difference. Do you think so?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would expect the verbs 'go' and 'travel' to be used with a car. To me, "a car goes on a road" sounds less formal. It might be used when speaking to a child. "Travels" sounds somewhat more formal to me. It might be used to describe a scene in a novel or movie.

    I wouldn't expect 'runs' and 'travels', unless for some reason a particular context makes them more likely.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    People drive (steer, control, pilot) a car. People drive cars on a road.

    A car engine runs (functions correctly), no matter where the car is. It does not only run on a road.
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    I would expect the verbs 'go' and 'travel' to be used with a car. To me, "a car goes on a road" sounds less formal. It might be used when speaking to a child. "Travels" sounds somewhat more formal to me. It might be used to describe a scene in a novel or movie.

    I wouldn't expect 'runs' and 'travels', unless for some reason a particular context makes them more likely.
    Thanks Cagey. A lot more clearer, thank you for your explanation. For drives, I can think of a situation, "Look, the robber hijacked the car. And the car is driving down the road. We need to go and catch him." But I don't know about how to use 'run', does "run" mean "drive"?
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    People drive (steer, control, pilot) a car. People drive cars on a road.

    A car engine runs (functions correctly), no matter where the car is. It does not only run on a road.
    I see, dojibear. I just asked this. So it means that the verb 'run' can't be used in the above sentence and it means different thing. So I don't have to use passive for using drive right? As "The car is driving away or driving down the road". "Drive" can be used without an object right?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Another meaning of "run" means "travel rapidly on 2 feet or 4 feet". It is used about humans and animals. It is not used for carts, wagons, cars, bicycles, or anything else with wheels.

    Saying "a car is driving" is the opposite of what I wrote. I said that people drive. The subject of the verb "drives" is the "driver" (the person driving the car).
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Another meaning of "run" means "travel rapidly on 2 feet or 4 feet". It is used about humans and animals. It is not used for carts, wagons, cars, bicycles, or anything else with wheels.

    Saying "a car is driving" is the opposite of what I wrote. I said that people drive. The subject of the verb "drives" is the "driver" (the person driving the car).
    I see. Because I thought "drive" can be used as an ergative verb like "The glass broke", The glass doesn't break itself but we can use the verb "broke" this way?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Because I thought "drive" can be used as an ergative verb like "The glass broke", The glass doesn't break itself but we can use the verb "broke" this way?
    Of course "break" can be used this way. But not "drive".

    Many English verbs cannot be used this way. For example "throw":
    I throw a ball to Joe.:tick:
    The ball throws to Joe.:cross:

    The WordReference dictionary has this definition of "drive":

    2. to guide the movement of (a vehicle)

    A vehicle cannot guide it's own movement.
     

    prudent260

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Saying "a car is driving" is the opposite of what I wrote. I said that people drive. The subject of the verb "drives" is the "driver" (the person driving the car).

    I ran a search on the topic in the COCA and I found many sentences using a car drives or runs. Aren't they acceptable?
    a car drives:
    You know how every French film has an exciting getaway scene where a car drives down a long set of steps? (
    Seriously I'm Kidding Part 9 Online | NovelOnlineFull.com
    )
    We turn to face the road as a car drives by.
    A car drives up to a middle school in a sunny, suburban town.
    A car drives through a town, spewing dry anthrax from an exhaust pipe.
    A car drives in the front gate, where it's met by uniformed Chinese security guards.

    a car runs:
    Then he pulled it after a car runs over somebody in Charlottesville.
    Unless the power goes out in my neighborhood or a car runs into a tree, we don't know we're a community.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I agree that those are good examples of 'drive' and 'run' being acceptably used to describe cars moving. Another possibility is using 'go': 'the car's going down Chelsea Road'. 'Travelling' is also used especially in collocation with speed: 'The get-away vehicle travelled at high speed down Millers Lane before crashing into a lamp post and bursting into flames.'
    These are examples of middle voice, which lies between active and passive modes. We know machines can't act of their own volition and need a human agency, but we talk as if they do. It replaces the passive. There are previous threads mentioning it, and of course articles online.
     

    Super Saiyan

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    I agree that those are good examples of 'drive' and 'run' being acceptably used to describe cars moving. Another possibility is using 'go': 'the car's going down Chelsea Road'. 'Travelling' is also used especially in collocation with speed: 'The get-away vehicle travelled at high speed down Millers Lane before crashing into a lamp post and bursting into flames.'
    These are examples of middle voice, which lies between active and passive modes. We know machines can't act of their own volition and need a human agency, but we talk as if they do. It replaces the passive. There are previous threads mentioning it, and of course articles online.
    Is there a rule that we can know which verbs can be used as middle voice? Or it’s pure memorization that I have to memorize which verbs can be used as middle voice like the glass broke.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    There are no lists or rules. It's more about usage. 'Middle' verb use is extremely common and once you are aware of it, you'll notice it all the time in your general reading. The emphasis on practising the passive tends to totally neglect the middle voice as a valid option.

    One aspect of middle voice is to reflect no interest at all in the agent.
    Compare "The plane flew low over the houses before crashing into the football field" with
    "The plane was flown low over the houses by the pilot before crashing ... ", which would be so artificial and unnatural as to be as bad as ungrammatical.
    Middle Voice Sentences

    In the link above when they talk about the 'patient' they mean what would be the direct object in an active sentence.
    The pilot flew low to avoid the radar.
    The pilot flew the plane low to avoid the radar.
    The plane flew low to avoid the radar.
    There are some interesting points about special implications of middle voice use. Don't worry if you don't 'get' these. They are very advanced and occur mainly in colloquial speech.
    The comment that middle voice is increasing is interesting too. Some of the examples 'don't read well': when they are read they sound like bad grammar.
     
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