I'm making a bar graph, where the height of the bar is the distance I ran on a particular day, and there are multiple bars, one for each day in the (historical) date range I'm plotting.

My question is this: for the y axis label, is the correct grammar "miles ran" or "miles run" ?


The correct form is "miles run".
To understand why, we need to remind ourselves that this is an intentionally shortened label, and that the purpose of the column is to show "how many miles you have run so far today". This is a sentence in present perfect tense (expressing an action that started in the past and has just finished). Present perfect is formed by the appropriate form of have plus the past participle of the acting verb. Because run is an irregular verb, its past participle happens to be identical to its simple present form. If you were measuring distance of other modes of movement, it could be "miles walked" or "miles driven" or "miles carried".

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Miles run would be the correct label in this case.

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  • Prove it, then. – choster Aug 20 '19 at 22:00
  • Hi, thanks for your input. I'm a new user and was working up some 'status' points to enable my comment function but reading Helion's thorough answer above, that has appeared since my basic answer was placed, its apparent that I could not have matched the technical knowledge displayed. So; Is it considered bad form on this site to simply answer the questions? Second question ; how to you enter a return in the comment function? Every time I hit return it has posted my comment! Hence all the edits, best regards user356 – user356866 Aug 21 '19 at 6:21
  • Help center said HTML line breaks <br/> but it does not seem to work. – user356866 Aug 21 '19 at 6:54
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    I hope I did not sound unwelcoming. It is in fact the case that Stack Exchange expects answers to explain, not merely state, including reasoning, references, and examples as may be appropriate. This is particularly important in an area like language, where educated opinion may vary, and therefore the analysis and authorities used to derive an answer must be sound. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. To your other question, comments have a much-reduced set of formatting options, and there is no way to enter a line break. – choster Aug 21 '19 at 14:36
  • @choster Thanks for the reply & info re formatting, absolutely no offence was felt. I did "take " the help tour but must have started skimming and missed the relevant bit. Will recap. Considering one's ability to provide detailed proof references etc. within answers, I now see why the comments boxes contain so many good points; they may be useful but do not add up to a full and proven answer. I know where my efforts belong now 🤪 – user356866 Aug 22 '19 at 13:02

You should use neither.

The title of the plot should contain information pertaining to the use of either words "ran" or "run".

The x and y labels should only be information pertaining to its coordinate label and unit (i.e. x (meters)). So for your case, the y-axis should be "y (miles)" or "y (miles/day)".

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