Don't write ran quickly


Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
I read a few such sentences:

–– “Don’t write ran quickly,” goes the classic advice. “Write sprinted instead.” It’s true that sprinted is more precise and interesting than ran quickly. ––

The two feel hard to me: Dont' write ran quickly. Write sprinted instead.

Why are the past tense forms “ran" and "sprinted" used instead of the present participles?
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Because these are examples, comparing one general word plus an adjective with a more specific word. It might be clearer with quotation marks:

    Don't write "ran quickly." Write "sprinted" instead. For example, don't write the sentence "The boy ran quickly to the bus." Instead, you should write "The boy sprinted to the bus."

    Any tenses could be used to teach this lesson, as long as the same tense is used for both ways of expressing the same idea.


    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I agree with Egmont: punctuation is necessary, and quotation marks do the job well.

    Another way is to use italics.
    - Don’t write ran quickly. Write sprinted instead.


    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    However, there's a difference between ran quickly and sprinted.

    The latter means ran as fast as he possibly could.
    Good point.

    Sometimes, in an attempt to use more interesting language, writers choose words that don't really mean what they want to say.
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