If I want the sentence below to mean "There were doors all around the room", is the verb "span" right to convey this information? It has multiple meanings, and I'm a little confused if it would work in this case.

Doors span all around the room.

I feel the impression that the doors might be "coming out of nowhere" when using to span.

  • I would try omitting "on", and specifying which sides of the corridor that you mean. The walls, or the ends? – A. Galloway Jul 26 '17 at 22:51
  • Your question is unclear. Do you mean that, at the end of the corridor, there are doors which go across hte corridor, from one side to the other? Or do you mean that there are doors on the left and right sides of the corridor, facing each other? I recommend adding a picture of such a corridor as the most efficient way to clarify your question. (In any case, the verb span never takes the preposition "on".) – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 26 '17 at 23:43
  • @P.E.Dant I edited the question. Actually, it doesn't really matter if it's a corridor. – Renan Jul 26 '17 at 23:50
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    "Span" means "extend across": "The bridge spans the river" ... or ... "His reign spanned forty years". So, no: it won't work in this sentence. (And span doesn't take a preposition: not on, nor around, nor any other.) – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 26 '17 at 23:59

Span means something goes from point A to point B, so I think saying "span" and "all around" is a bit confusing. As P.E. Dant points out, "span" doesn't typically take a preposition (except maybe across, which would probably be redundant most of the time).

You could try:

Doors span the entire room.

Or something like:

Doors span the length of every wall.

Still, I think this is opening you up to a potential ambiguity: Do we have a bunch of doors in a row, or are the doors just super wide? Also, even if we don't have super wide doors, do they doors really span the entire wall/room, or are there just more doors than normal? If you say the doors "span the length of the wall," you're really saying that it's just door after door after door with no spaces in between, and I don't know what kind of crazy room that'd be true for.

If you really want to say "there were doors all around the room," I'd just say that. Or "the room had a lot of doors" or "there were multiple doors on every wall of the room" or whatever more specific thing you can think of that is accurate for the circumstance.

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  • "Maybe", "probably", and "most of the time", all in the same parenthetical? :) That is a masterpiece of equivocation! Span doesn't take a preposition because it implies a preposition such as "over" or "across". The noun can take a preposition ("The bridge is a span across the Hudson") but not the verb. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 27 '17 at 0:14
  • If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that as soon as you try to give a hard and fast rule, someone comes up with a sentence that contradicts you! Good point about the implied preposition, though. If nobody comes along with a good example to the contrary, I'll edit to be a bit stronger. – cjl750 Jul 27 '17 at 0:43
  • Be authoritative until quashed by a more authoritative statement, I say. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 27 '17 at 0:44

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