I am not the native English reader. I want to know what the "sentence 3" means, especially with the meaning of "run." The reason why I quoted "sentence 1" and "sentence 2" is to help you understand the context of the sentence 3. By these parts are included in the article about teacher evaluation. Thank you for your help.

  • sentence 1: Thus, a teacher who appears to be very ineffective in one year might have a dramatically different result the following year.

  • sentence 2: The same dramatic fluctuations were found for teachers ranked at the bottom in the first year of analysis.

- sentence 3: This runs counter to most people’s notions that the true quality of a teacher is likely to change very little over time and raises questions about whether what is measured is largely a “teacher effect” or the effect of a wide variety of other factors.

  • The closest meaning of "runs" here is "works". As in "it works counter to the popular notion.."
    – Novelcause
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 7:44

2 Answers 2


In this context runs counter to would mean the same as contradicts or goes against.

Counter here means against as in counter clockwise, counter argument, counter intuitive. To run counter to is to move against or oppose.

  • Thank you so much. I understand "counter" is the center of this phrase.
    – user70500
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 16:09

If you are having trouble understanding the meaning of one word, try to expanding your search in the dictionary to a phrase. In this case, if we look up "run counter", we will certainly stumble upon what we need. A definition from Collins:

run counter to

to have a contrary effect or action to

So we can rephrase the sentence as:

This does not conform to most people’s notions...


This is quite the opposite to most people’s notions...

  • Thank you very much. Collins is very good at searching complex phrase, so it would be useful for my English study. Thank you again.
    – user70500
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 16:10

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