# walking up the middle of the road

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#### dichelson

##### Senior Member
Hello: in the following excerpt I'm not sure about the meaning of "walking up the middle of the road":

""He's probably too drunk to drive". Jack and Amy looked out, and Jack reported, "He isn't driving. He's walking up the middle of the road"

Does it mean that he was walking in the middle of the road? Thank you

• #### Matching Mole

##### Senior Member
I don't see why this should not be taken literally, however, what is the background to the scene?

#### dichelson

##### Senior Member
The character they are talking about just went out the tavern, and they are looking to see if he's going to drive because they think he's too drunk. Assuming the expression must be taken literally, and considering I'm not sure about its meaning, can you please explain it to me using different words?

#### Matching Mole

##### Senior Member
Walking up a road, a path, etc., just means walking along it; it often means approaching (e.g. "She walked up to me", "he walked up the drive to the castle"). I don't think "middle of the road" can be expressed more clearly; I expect he is in danger of being hit by a passing car.

#### sound shift

##### Senior Member
He is not crossing the road. Imagine that there is a centre-line in the middle of the road. He is walking on that line.

#### dichelson

##### Senior Member
So in the end it means it was walking along the center line of the road (assuming there was a center line). Right?

#### SleepingLeopard

##### Senior Member
So in the end it means it was walking along the center line of the road (assuming there was a center line). Right?
You've got it.

Funnily enough, walking "up" the middle of the road and walking "down" the middle of the road mean the same thing.

#### dichelson

##### Senior Member
I would say, if the road has a slope and you go up in one direction, and down the other way, the two expressions are not equivalent anymore. Is that correct?

#### SleepingLeopard

##### Senior Member
I would say, if the road has a slope and you go up in one direction, and down the other way, the two expressions are not equivalent anymore. Is that correct?
Yes, if the road is on a hill, I would use walking "up" or "down" the road depending on which direction.

But on a flat road, I say walking "up" or "down" the road interchangably. I can't think of any distinction I make, and simply use whichever one I feel like using.

#### gaer

##### Senior Member
I would say, if the road has a slope and you go up in one direction, and down the other way, the two expressions are not equivalent anymore. Is that correct?
Walking up/down the road is used much like "slow up" and "slow down".

Slow up/slow down are two ways to say: "go slower".

Up/down the middle of the road, refers to general movement but not slope.

To express the idea you have in mind: walking in the center of the road AND either uphill or downhill

requires different wording, and I don't yet have a solution.
Yes, if the road is on a hill, I would use walking "up" or "down" the road depending on which direction.
I understand your point, but it does not solve the problem of walking up or down the middle of the road AND combining this idea with walking both uphill and downhill.

This would be an unusual situation to describe. It's a special case.

#### dichelson

##### Senior Member
Thanks a lot!

#### SleepingLeopard

##### Senior Member
Uh oh. I lied. I just thought of one case in which I would distinguish up and down.

Let's say John is walking on the road and I'm standing with Bill:
I point to John walking, and if he's walking away from us, I would say:
"He's right there, walking down the road."
If he's walking toward me and Bill, I would say:
"He's right there, walking up the road."

But without this specific context, I do use them interchangably.

#### Matching Mole

##### Senior Member
I would say, if the road has a slope and you go up in one direction, and down the other way, the two expressions are not equivalent anymore. Is that correct?
If the road has a significant slope we would probably call it a hill. Up and down when referring to hills or slopes are meant in terms of ascending and descending. When speaking of paths, roads, drives, corridors, etc., then "up" and "down" would not be taken as referring to ascending or descending. This ambiguity—where it matters—is usually avoided by verbs like climb, ascend, etc.

#### gaer

##### Senior Member
If the road has a significant slope we would probably call it a hill. Up and down when referring to hills or slopes are meant in terms of ascending and descending. When speaking of paths, roads, drives, corridors, etc., then "up" and "down" would not be taken as referring to ascending or descending. This ambiguity—where it matters—is usually avoided by verbs like climb, ascend, etc.
Right:

He's walking uphill, in the middle of the road.
He's walking downhill, in the middle of the road.

#### Matching Mole

##### Senior Member
Or: "He's coming up the hill—walking right down the middle of the road!"

#### gaer

##### Senior Member
Or: "He's coming up the hill—walking right down the middle of the road!"
Oh no!

That makes perfect sense to me, but why do I have the feeling that non-natives are going to go crazy trying to figure out the logic of this?

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