I have recently studied two sentences in which these words are used which i mentioned:

  1. your program is not executing.
  2. your program is not running.

these two words often used in sentences so my question is it appropriate to use the word execute instead run?


Per rules of ordinary (non-technical) English, execute is a transitive verb. So, something/someone has to execute something/someone. For example:

The government is executing a new survey.

From the perspective of linguistic style, you would use "execute" as follows:

Your program is not being executed.

Your program is not executing this line of code.

Run has multiple meanings and this one in particular can be used both transitively and intransitively:

[ I or T ] (of people and some animals) to move along, faster than walking, by taking quick steps in which each foot is lifted before the next foot touches the ground:

(from Cambridge Dictionary)

This allows you to write either of these sentences:

Your program is not running.

Your program is not being run.

If we look at the world of software development and the technical language in use, however, it's a very different picture. Use of "execute" intransitively, as in your example, is widespread. "Is not running" and "is not executing" would be considered equivalent and both are widely prevalent in daily use.

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    As someone who has worked in IT for many years, "Your program is not executing," is perfectly understandable and used regularly among developers, even if it is not grammatical. It means your program is not running. – EllieK May 9 '18 at 12:56
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    As a pedant, I think you're using a dangling modifier there, @EllieK ;^) – stangdon May 9 '18 at 14:13
  • @EllieK to slightly complicate things, in IT related matters I could see this sentence making total sense: "Your program is running but not executing". Meaning you can start your program, and it runs, but due to X (bugs, wrong code, errors, etc). it doesn't actually do what's expected. ...something like that. – BruceWayne May 10 '18 at 2:36
  • Are you saying the grammar wasn't executing? :P – Lawrence May 10 '18 at 13:42

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