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In the phrase "an economical car to run", I wonder what or who is the subject of the verb "run".

I think there are two possibilities. One is that it is the car that "runs". The other possibility is that it is the person that "runs" and the car is ran by him or her.

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    In the future, please provide more details, like a complete sentence or the context in which you found the example. I'm guessing you found it in this dictionary entry. There is no explicit subject. It's an incomplete sentence. – Em. Mar 21 '17 at 6:03
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    @Max The fact that the sentence is incomplete is unrelated to the fact that there is no explicit subject. Even if the sentence were made complete, for example by saying "The Corolla is an economical car to run," that would not bring you any closer to being able to say what the subject of "run" is. It's certainly not "the Corolla." – user49640 Mar 21 '17 at 6:19
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    This is a noun phrase containing the non-finite clause "To run" which has no overt subject but is understood as some arbitrary person(s). – BillJ Mar 21 '17 at 6:39
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    Most noun phrases with a postmodifying to-clause do not have an overt subject. But it's usually restated with for-phrase. "It's an economical car for you to run – user178049 Mar 21 '17 at 6:51
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    In grammatical parlance, we'd say that the understood subject is identified from the context. It could be the speaker, someone else, or motorists in general. So we say that the subject is determined non-syntactically because the missing subject is not linked to an antecedent in some syntactically specified position. – BillJ Mar 21 '17 at 7:22
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I understand the word to run in this phrase to be synonymous with to operate and maintain

If you run a car. It is generally understood to mean that you use and/or maintain that car. Therefore 'to run' is referring to the person rather than the car

Some example sentences are; "A Fiat 500 is more economical to run that a Ferrari GTC4Lusso",

"New models of car are more economical to run than their older equivalent", or

"A smaller engine is not always more economical to run than a bigger engine"

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    I am not an expert on the English language and have no formal qualifications in English. I offer my advice as a native British English speaker. I believe the advice of an untrained English speaker can sometimes be beneficial – RedPython Mar 24 '17 at 12:14
  • Your answer definitely helps me a lot. I also agree that the advice of an untrained English speaker can be very beneficial. Because they can explain in a more natural way as a natural user of that language. – Smart Humanism Mar 25 '17 at 12:50
  • I would like to ask a question apart from the main topic here. You said that "New models of car are more economical to run than their older equivalent." But I wonder whether there should come "a" in front of "car" in the sentence. Why I am wondering about it is that "car" is a countable noun. I look forward to getting your answer to that. – Smart Humanism Mar 25 '17 at 14:35
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    There shouldn't be an 'a' because I am referring to cars in general. If you put an 'a' there it would leave me wondering what car you were talking about. I expect it would make more sense if I said, "New car models are more efficient to run than their older equivalents" – RedPython Mar 25 '17 at 18:10
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    I think you probably could but that's not how I would say the sentence. It sounds a bit awkward if both words are plural. I can tell how I say this sentence but lack the knowledge to explain why. – RedPython Mar 25 '17 at 18:28

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