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Suppose that there is a cat in the room, and it suddenly starts running towards the bed. A few seconds later, the cat is underneath the bed.

I want to describe this situation in one sentence without using and. What I think makes this difficult for me to translate, is that it uses two types of prepositions; one for the direction pointed to the bed, and the other is for the location of the cat.

For the first one, to, towards might be used, and for the second one, under or underneath might work (although I am not sure and I am not a native English speaker). I wonder if you could say the following:

The cat ran to/towards underneath the bed.

This one uses 2 prepositions in a row, making me think it might not work. However, removing one changes the meaning.

The cat ran towards the bed.

sounds like the cat is going to the bed, but not "under the bed". The cat might just go by the bed too, but that is not what I want.

The cat ran under/underneath the bed.

can mean the cat was already under the bed in the first place, and just ran, staying under the bed during the course of the action.

Can someone please help?

  • 'The cat ran under the bed' defaults to the sense you want; you need to use 'and' (or equivalent, say using '; then it ...') to make it absolutely clear. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 16 '17 at 22:27
  • Rather, please, suppose there is a cat in the room, and it starts running towards the bed. Shortly, the cat is under/underneath the bed. Is that significantly different? Is that easier to follow? Never you mind any two types of prepositions, please. The direction (pointing) to the bed is not relevant and neither is the location of the cat. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 21 '17 at 21:25
  • For an example of why not all things are possible to say in English, see the very similar question from a native speaker of Afrikaans (although the accepted answer there is not written in idiomatic English). – Arm the good guys in America Dec 17 '17 at 0:17
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If I say 'there was a cat in the room which then ran under the bed' I am conveying that a cat is, first, in the room and that the cat, thereafter, ran under the bed. I have placed the cat in the room, first. Then I have stated that it ran under the bed. I have stated a change in location. Without using 'and'.

I do not think that any English speaker would imagine that the cat was running around under the bed and had never been out in the main concourse of the room.

The English words I have used just don't carry that meaning.

Had I wanted to give that impression I would have had to make it clear by saying 'there was a cat in the room running around underneath the bed'.

I don't think it necessary to state 'to' or 'towards' the bed. That would be understood by the cat changing its location from being out in the room to under the bed. It does not have to be stated, as such.

  • Thank you for your answer. I just got confused because of the difference in language structure between English and my mother tongue, Japanese. In Japanese, we could literally say "The cat, the bed, under, towards, ran" in this order. Japanese language can use the word "under" as a noun, so I never thought about this problem. – jun Nov 16 '17 at 20:46
  • @jun I find it fascinating to hear how other languages work. Maybe Japanese is, in some ways, more economical than English. I understand that Japanese is over a thousand years old, so every bit as mature as English. I am sure there will be someone along in a little while who can give you a better - more technical - answer than I can. – Nigel J Nov 16 '17 at 20:53

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