a running car that is not running [moving]

Ocham

Senior Member
Japanese
#1
In the sentence below, "a running car" is not actually running on a road, but its
engine is running. Is it a common way to describe "a car with its engine on"?
Or do we have to know it from the context?

(I'm sorry to quote from a sad news.)
A 14-year-old Boston boy died from carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday
in a running car as his father was digging it out of a snow bank.
 
  • Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    #2
    I'd say it's actually more common to refer to it "running" if in a stationary state.
    You see, if it's on the road, moving, we know it's "running"; we don't tend to be redundant.

    However, if I wanted to tell someone that my car is outside (perhaps letting the car engine warm up) with the engine on, I would most definitely say "the car/motor is running."

    When we refer to humans or animals "running" we definitely assume they are moving. This does not apply in the same way to a car. Usually, we refer to the engine running; so we say "the car is running". What is really meant is that the engine of the car is running.

    There are instances of the car "running" down the road, however. "I ran my car on the drag strip; I clocked 4.7 seconds on the quarter mile."
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    #3
    Often times it is just "engine running".

    Do you often leave your engine running when you go inside for coffee?
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    #6
    This Brit would use engine/motor on/running/going: not a running car.

    GF..

    One can say a running car... but does it mean the car is moving or is the engine going?
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    #9
    "Is your car running?" = "Is your car's engine going?"

    However:
    "Does your car run?" = "Is your car in working order?"
    That would sort of be the same thing though (at least to me). Both mean "engine running/run".

    "Is your engine running?"
    "Does your car engine run?"
    "Is your car running?" = "Is your car's engine going?" = "Is your car's engine running right now, as we speak?"
    "Does your car run?" = "Is your car in working order?" = "Is your car's engine, which is not running right now, capable of being run?"
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    #10
    I would simply say that "...in a running car as his father was digging it out of a snow bank." is badly written.

    However, we can tell that it means the engine is running (and not the car) simply because of the context.

    By the way, I don't think we ever say that a car is running in order to suggest that it is actually moving.

    Example
    "Look at that car driving along the road." :tick:
    "Look at that car moving along the road." :tick:
    "Look at that car travelling along the road." :tick:
    "Look at that car running along the road." :cross:
     
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    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    #11
    By the way, I don't think we ever say that a car is running in order to suggest that it is actually moving.
    Never say never. ;) In racing, it is often said." Running cars" during time trials has quite a prevalent usage.

    In my post, #2, you can see an example of how a car is "run" for a quarter mile. They even refer to them as "run times". :)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    #12
    Never say never. ;) In racing, it is often said." Running cars" during time trials has quite a prevalent usage.

    In my post, #2, you can see an example of how a car is "run" for a quarter mile. They even refer to them as "run times". :)
    But in post 2 you are using the verb transitively. You say "I ran my car on the drag strip." The subject is 'I' and 'car' is the direct object.

    Would you actually use the intransitive verb and say
    "Look at that car running along the road." where 'car' is the subject?
     
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