Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Running is a State of Being

When I’m not training for any particular races, I spend a lot of time on long, meandering walks with the dogs through the forest behind my house.

During one of these recent walks, words floated around in my head, finding their way into phrases, sentences, and even occasional paragraphs. Most of my writing happens on trail, with only a fraction of it actually finding its way from brain to fingers to keyboard.

A phrase kept arising that finally caused a serious conversation between Artistic Writer Me and Grammar Teacher Me.

“I ran slow.”

A fair statement, no? I mean, much of the time I am slow! But you see where Grammar Teacher Me has a problem with this, right?

Run is an action verb. You don’t run slow. You run slowly.

But I can’t gripe about my pace in a race by whining, “Man, I was running so damn slowly!”

Artistic Writer Me asserts: It wasn’t my legs that were slow; it wasn’t the action of running. It was just me!

I was slow!

And this is just fine, Grammar Teacher Me says, because “to be” is a linking verb. It expresses a state of being. It names the subject. Me=slow. Therefore, adjectives, not adverbs, are the menu item of choice.

I can be slow, but can I run slow?

It was then that I recognized this one truth: Running is a state of being. “To run” does not have to be an action verb.

I can run slow or fast. I can run happy, sad, heavy, or light. Sometimes, I just run. It's me being who I am.

And I felt quit triumphant at finding a conclusion that satisfied both Me’s.


  1. Wow, Gretchen, that clicked! I love it. Perfect! I run therefore I am.

  2. Pam - Hee hee, thanks for being a writer nerd with me. :)

  3. I just Googled Adverb and Adjective to brush up on what they are...those, along with things like past participles, have always eluded me. Though, now that I consider it, wouldn't 'eluded' be a past participle?


  4. And with the school year beginning, I'm anticipating changing "hopefully" to "it is hoped" hundreds of times. It's the same grammatical (or "grammatic," as some insist) situation.

  5. Bingo. That paragraph about "I run..." English is not my strongest, and in Russian we are allowed to write and express with no regards to grammar:) Try Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. They wouldn't even blink on it.

  6. And here all I typically debate with myself is whether I am over or under dressed for the weather....

  7. Paige - Isn't the power of Google great sometimes? Seriously, what did we do for those little answers before the internet? Go to the library and search out a grammar book?

    Steve - That does sound tedious. I let "hopefully" slide, for sure. Grammar Girl did a podcast episode once on starting a sentence with hopefully and she convinced me that it's not such a sin. Don't tell the grammar police on me!! Of course, I've also been known to split an infinitive now then and even end a sentence in a preposition if I'm feeling especially frisky. ;)

    Olga - No regards to grammar? Why doesn't that strike me as very Russian? I did love Anna Karenina, but it's been a while.

    Anne - Well, yeah. Maybe I should get back to running instead of the long meandering walks, huh?

  8. This post put a smile on my face. :-)

  9. Sarah - Yay! I'ts always a successful day when I can make someone smile. :)