Is the use of the construction should have gone running away correct? Would not a better answer be “should have run away”? A teacher at my school had this question on her students exam and is curious if it is an acceptable answer.

The full sentence from which the above was taken is:

The cheetah tended to the sick lion and was eaten. He should have gone running away instead of helping the lion.

I'm not sure if the use of “...he should have gone running away...” is grammatically acceptable.

  • Please write the full sentence where the phrase was used and tell us what you understand from your own research and what bothers you most. Otherwise, you question will be closed as unclear. – user140086 Jul 4 '16 at 6:13
  • I think He should have gone running away... has a certain poetic beauty to it. @Rathony? – Darshan Chaudhary Jul 4 '16 at 6:17
  • @DarshanChaudhary How about He should have gone flying away? – user140086 Jul 4 '16 at 6:25
  • @Rathony, that's better! :') – Darshan Chaudhary Jul 4 '16 at 6:36
  • Don't see any problem with that sentence. Your version would give a slightly different meaning. Here the focus is more on the disappearance of the animal. Simply saying he should have run way means the same thing but doesn't emphasize the gone/disappearance part. English as any other language, has many ways to describe the same thing with small subtleties. – Noah Jul 4 '16 at 8:13

It really seems to me that "running away" is describing the way in which he ran. We can add some clarifying punctuation:

He should have gone, running away, instead of helping the lion.

(Most people prefer commas, I think, although I'd prefer em-dashes. Either seems acceptable here.)

The way it is given, with "should have gone running away", definitely reads a bit awkwardly for me as a native English speaker.

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"gone" in this sense is the past tense of "go" as in "to go and do something". It's typically used with recreational activities, particularly exercise, like "He's gone swimming" or "I should have gone running this morning." or "She's gone to play frisbee in the park". There's an implication that you go somewhere else in order to do the activity.

"should have gone running away" suggests that "running away" is an activity, perhaps recreational, which the subject should have gone somewhere to do, which isn't what is intended.

It would be better to simply write "He should have run away" instead.

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  • @Mari-LouA seems clear enough to me - I have answered my interpretation of the question, at least, which is all that I could ever do for any question. – Max Williams Jul 4 '16 at 8:34
  • The exam question had a blank that had to be filled in. Do you know what that blank space was? Usually blanks in exams are for single words not for clauses. Maybe the exam paper was a multiple choice one. I find the OP question as clear as mud at this point. – Mari-Lou A Jul 4 '16 at 8:39
  • Added for clarification. Please see the trail of comments in Patrick's answer It's not clear what the original sentence in the exam question was. – Mari-Lou A 11 mins ago – Mari-Lou A Jul 4 '16 at 8:45
  • On closer inspection of all the comments etc, I'm now also confused about what the actual question is. The OP needs some sort of virtual slap for the chaos of this question. Ah well, I'll leave my answer here in case it's useful. – Max Williams Jul 4 '16 at 9:07

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