Imagine you are teaching your child about a process that is made of a few stages, for example, the four-stage life cycle of a bug. After explaining each stage, you briefly go over them. And to check the child remembers the four stages, you ask them to say/name the four stages.

I wonder if you could say:

Can you run them by me now?

If that is not natural, how would you ask the child to enumerate the four stages in non-marked, and informal registers?

The reason I am asking is that Cambridge states that

to tell someone about something so that they can give their opinion about it

and Oxford gives

(informal) to show sb sth or tell sb about an idea in order to see their reaction to it

While I heard the expression in situations where you would say it to ask someone to repeat what they have just said because you missed or misheard something as in:

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

run something by ( someone ) (again)

to explain something to someone again; to say something to someone again.

• I didn't hear you. Please run that by me again. • Please run it by so we can all hear it.


Is it different from Run that by me one more time?

In the animated movie Planes 2013, Dusty says "run that by me one more time" because he wanted to hear the long unfamiliar instructions again. I mean there are no opinions or assessment, only instructions to follow.

Maintain 1,000 feet. Intercept the 22 right localizer.

You are cleared for the ILS 22, right approach.

Roger. Heavy is sectored in behind you.

Dusty: Run that by me one more time.

Turn further left, heading 1-9-5. Maintain 1, 000

Dusty: Never mind. I got it.


You may be confusing your prepositions

to run something by

is to review a piece of work for checking.

Your usage is understandable, but a better choice might be

to run through

which has the meaning of to "go over" or to "repeat"

Can you run through the four stages of an insect?

Alternatively, you might say

Could you review the four stages of an insect?
Could you repeat the four stages of an insect?
Could you go over the four stages of an insect?

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    Thanks Peter. Your suggestion is adopted. But I guess I still want to clear the source of my confusion. I added it in the EDIT block in my post. – learner Aug 22 '16 at 23:55
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    There is no difference except possibly one would add "one more time" after the first time something is run by you. – Peter Aug 23 '16 at 1:58

According to merriam-webster.com, to run something by someone is to "to present to (as for evaluation)." So one would use the phrase when one wants an opinion or evaluation of a subject, not just for enumeration. In the example with the child, the parent is asking only for a list, so the expression would not be correct for the context. If it were my child, I'd simply ask her if she could name the four stages in order.

  • Thanks Michele. Would you like to update your answer after checking my post again. – learner Aug 22 '16 at 23:55

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