The sentence was "The boy ran a long distance." I answered that the verb "ran" was intransitive. Is it correct ?

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  • "Ran" is transitive and the noun phrase "a long distance" is its direct object. – BillJ Feb 28 '18 at 8:19
  • See Is this a direct object or predicate complement for a treatment of 'measure phrases'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '18 at 17:38
  • CGEL has 'The view taken here, however, is that the resistance of the verbs to passivisation does not provide convincing grounds for saying that the post-verbal NPs are not objects: passivisation does not provide either a necessary or a sufficient condition for object status.' The authors are gracious enough to concede that there are other views. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '18 at 18:05
  • What has passivisation got to do with anything? The OP simply asked if the verb "run" was transitive or intransitive in their example. In any case "run" can occur in passive clauses, cf. The first sub-four- minute mile was run by Roger Bannister in 1954 . – BillJ Mar 1 '18 at 9:24

You are correct. The verb 'run' is always intransitive when it has the sense of "To go with quick steps on alternate feet, never having both or (in the case of many animals) all feet on the ground at the same time" (according to OED). The phrase 'a long distance' functions as an adverb phrase that answers the question 'how far' rather than 'what'.

  • Hello, WindOwl. You'll see that Encarta analyses 'ran a long distance' differently (in line with CGEL, I believe). I favour the not-a-direct-object interpretation myself, but one needs a more authoritative grammar resource than a dictionary to argue one way or the other in this case. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '18 at 17:59
  • What about OED, 2b: b) To traverse or cover (a certain distance) by running? – AmE speaker Feb 28 '18 at 20:37

transitive verb travel distance by running: to cover a particular distance while running Microsoft® Encarta® 2008. © 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. Reservados todos los derechos.

3 a (1) : to pass over or traverse with speed (2) : to run on or over in athletic competition runs the bases well run the floor b : to accomplish or perform by or as if by running ran a great race run errands c : to slip or go through or past run a blockade run a red light d : to travel on (as a river) in a boat run the rapids Merriam-Webster

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