"He trod a path" This sentence seems to have two different meanings: 1. He walked (through the grass, for example) and his heavy steps shaped a path. 2. He walked along a path. I would like to know if it is possible to add a preposition after "trod" to remove the ambiguity. For example, is it correct to write: "he trod upon a path" or "he trod along a path". Thank you for your advice.

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    Trod, no e. – Dan Bron Sep 26 '15 at 15:26
  • @DanBron: Or possibly strode (which might explain the confusion). – Tim Lymington Sep 26 '15 at 15:33
  • @Dan: Trode was used before we were born. I think the question came from the Medieval Ages. – user140086 Sep 26 '15 at 15:39
  • @TimLymington Hmm, I don't know if striding a path through the savannah would connote "pushing down the grass and creating a visible path". – Dan Bron Sep 26 '15 at 15:48
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    You should correct the spelling, as the OP it's your question, and you can improve your post when you see fit. It seems silly to me to leave a typo/spelling mistake after it's been pointed out and acknowledged. – Mari-Lou A Sep 26 '15 at 18:01

I always recommend looking up to a dictionary when you encounter this kind of "word usage issue".

According to Merriam-Webster,

tread is a transitive verb when you shape a path. Therefore, you should not use a preposition.

Also, when you use "tread" to mean "walk along", it is also a transitive verb. So, you should not use a preposition.

Hope it helps.

  • .Thank you very much for your answer that I have just read. – Thalie Sep 26 '15 at 16:02
  • My pleasure. Nobody can beat a dictionary. – user140086 Sep 26 '15 at 16:04
  • But that means that "trod a path" can mean either that he created a path, or simply followed it. Awkward. The only way I can think of to avoid this ambiguity is to use forged a path to mean he created it. – Brian Hitchcock Sep 27 '15 at 6:35
  • @Brian, I agree with you. – user140086 Sep 27 '15 at 6:42

Transitive verbs have intransitive uses. That is, even when a verb may take an object, it needn't necessarily have to take one. Thus it is with "tread." The Ngram viewer finds numerous instances of the intransitive use of this verb, and I present one below from Along the Road: A Parabolic Appalachian Journey by J. T. Elder:

Paul's pulse quickened as he considered this possibility. He had sought the career path he had long trod along for one primary reason: security!

  • "Paul's pulse" is a somewhat unhappy alliteration, and then "he had long trod along". Ugly sentences. – Mari-Lou A Sep 26 '15 at 18:47
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    @Mari-LouA It's better than the original: "Paul's pulse pounded as he pondered the possibility." – deadrat Sep 26 '15 at 19:01
  • Give me the original any day! :) – Mari-Lou A Sep 26 '15 at 19:08

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