a running power or running powers

Discussion in 'English Only' started by prudent260, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. prudent260 Senior Member

    The sentences below were extracted from The Legend of Geoffrey:

    "He challenged Charlie the cheetah to a race."
    "He lost."
    "He didn’t have awesome running powers."
    "He challenged Finnegan the flamingo to a standing on-one-leg contest."
    "He lost again."
    "He didn’t have special balancing powers."

    I feel running fast is an ability.
    Why does the writer use running powers and balancing powers instead of a awesome running power and a special balancing power?
    Do a power and powers in the context mean different things?

    Thank you.
  2. Barque Senior Member

    He could have said "He didn't have awesome running power" and "didn't have special balancing power" but "powers" works too, though the ability to run or balance is a "single" power,

    "An awesome running power" doesn't sound natural.

    "A special balancing power" could work (the word "special" as opposed to "awesome" makes a difference) but it sounds as if he had a special or unique way of balancing that was different from others. In your sentence it seems to have been used to mean "exceptional" rather than "unique/unusual".
  3. prudent260 Senior Member

    In Longman dictionary under the fifth explanation: power | meaning of power in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE

    5 ABILITY [countable, uncountable] a natural or special ability to do something
    After the accident she lost the power of speech

    powers of observation/concentration/persuasion
    a writer’s powers of observation
    your mental powers
    a stone with magical powers

    The phrase in bold often point out how a word is often used, and I can understand observation require powers and a stone have many magical powers.
    The first example sentence, however, was written in the singular.

    After the accident she lost speaking powers. (I made this up.)
    What is you opinion about the use of power in the plural in the above sentence?

    Thank you
  4. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    To my mind, it's unnatural.
    I think we would say in modern English, "she lost the ability to speak."
  5. prudent260 Senior Member

    What about running powers and balancing powers in the book?
  6. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Well, The Legend of Geoffrey is a fantasy book written for very young children.

    So I'd guess that maybe the image the author is trying to create is of some sort of 'magical powers' that ordinary animals don't have.

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