The tug crossed our stern not fifty yards away.

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You can use not in front of a word referring to a distance, length of time, or other amount to say that the actual distance, time, or amount is less than the one mentioned.
The tug crossed our stern not fifty yards away.
As far as I understand it approximately means: The tug (a boat) sailed past the stern (of our boat) less than fifty yards away.
50 yards = 45m
I don't understand why do they use the verb 'cross' (something) if the distance between objects (boats) is 40-45 m ?
Or do I not understand the sentence?:)(That's most likely)

Thank you!
  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    Suppose that our boat is moving in a direction south to north. The tug is moving east to west (or west to east, it doesn't matter which), in front of our boat. When the tug's path crosses our boat's path, there is less than 50 yards between the two boats.
    I hope this helps :)


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The term stern is not just the rear of a ship. It also means an imaginary line extending straight back from the stern. The ship crossed that line.

    In a similar context, bow can refer to an imaginary line extending straight forward from the front of a ship. The phrase "to fire a warning shot across a ship's bow" means that the shot goes some distance in front of the ship, far enough ahead of the ship not to risk harming her, but crosses that line.
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