Run the gamut

High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:

Have I used the expression" run the gamut" correctly in the following sentence?

Where have you been, Mike? I have run the gamut of looking for you all over the place

Thanks
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Having checked all the available example in the BNC, I've concluded that you must in some way specify the spectrum of possibilities that forms the gamut through which you're running.
    Typically, this is done in one of two ways:
    I've run the gamut from A to Z (where A and B are two extremities on a notional spectrum)
    I've run the gamut of X (where X explicitly names the spectrum in mind)

    So for your sentence, you might say:
    'I've run the gamut from the attic to the basement in looking for you.'
    'I've run the gamut of your usual hiding places.'
    (fairly low grade examples, I'm afraid)
    Here are some real ones in context.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I wonder whether High on Grammar, in choosing his example sentence, has been misled by "run". In this phrase, the "run" does not indicate motion; rather it means to cover a whole range:

    "I ran over in my mind the entire gamut of places where you might have been, from attic to cellar, but when I went to look for you I couldn't find you."
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, that's a good point. It hadn't occurred to me that 'run' might be a stumbling block. I suppose the entire trope is borrowed from music, so that 'running the gamut' is the same as running through all the notes in scale, something that can be done whilst sitting in relative comfort.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    I wonder whether High on Grammar, in choosing his example sentence, has been misled by "run". In this phrase, the "run" does not indicate motion; rather it means to cover a whole range:

    "I ran over in my mind the entire gamut of places where you might have been, from attic to cellar, but when I went to look for you I couldn't find you."

    Yes, you are right. you are exactly right. I had been misled into thinking that "run" is a physical thing .

    So, now that I understand that "run" in " run the gamut' is a mental activity" and not a physical one, can you tell me if the expression is used correctly in the following sentence?

    I have looked for you all over the house, running the entire gamut of places you could have been.

    Thank you so very much
     
    Last edited:

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    Having checked all the available example in the BNC, I've concluded that you must in some way specify the spectrum of possibilities that forms the gamut through which you're running.
    Typically, this is done in one of two ways:
    I've run the gamut from A to Z (where A and B are two extremities on a notional spectrum)
    I've run the gamut of X (where X explicitly names the spectrum in mind)

    So for your sentence, you might say:
    'I've run the gamut from the attic to the basement in looking for you.'
    'I've run the gamut of your usual hiding places.'
    (fairly low grade examples, I'm afraid)
    Here are some real ones in context.
    Thanks
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm not sure that I'd say "gamut is a mental activity" and not a physical one. The gamut might be a range of sports for example; it's the "running" that is not physical. Beryl has come up with good and varied examples in context. And there is always the famous remark about an actress who "delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions from A to B".

    "I have looked for you all over the house, running the entire gamut of places you could have been" sounds a little off to me, since the "running" suggests more the act of running; I prefer Beryl's versions. :)
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    Having checked all the available example in the BNC, I've concluded that you must in some way specify the spectrum of possibilities that forms the gamut through which you're running.
    Typically, this is done in one of two ways:
    I've run the gamut from A to Z (where A and B are two extremities on a notional spectrum)
    I've run the gamut of X (where X explicitly names the spectrum in mind)

    So for your sentence, you might say:
    'I've run the gamut from the attic to the basement in looking for you.'
    'I've run the gamut of your usual hiding places.'
    (fairly low grade examples, I'm afraid)
    Here are some real ones in context.

    Thank you so very much for your crystal clear explanation .
     
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