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The dog ran along the road.

The dog ran down the road.

I was doing a test paper on English and came across this question "the dog ran __ the road", and from the options only two made sense, along and down, but do they both not mean the same thing?

So far as i've been told, walking down does maybe indicate there being a sense of direction. Whereas walk along, could just mean walking horizontally on something like a pavement, or next to something.

But if you're talking about running or walking down/along the sidewalk or the street, both should pretty much mean the same thing, right? That you're either walking or running on the flat surface of the pavement.

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Well, IMO, both are correct.

In English, certain words require some preposition, and 'walk' is the word here. Other options of preposition after the verb include along, down, and even up! I think they might have a hairline difference. Maybe, the next word shows some direction?

If a road is going downhill, it could be 'walk down the road'; if it's running toward some hill or slope, we may say 'walk up the road', and in a case, it's flat or plain, 'walk along the road,' maybe! I also feel that along has 'long' in it and thus, it might have to do something at the 'stretch' i.e. walking with the length of the river?


Interestingly, it's also used as an idiom, and there too, they are the same!

along/down the road: in the future, especially at a later stage in a process

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    So far as i've been told, walking down does maybe indicate there being a sense of direction. Whereas walk along, could just mean walking horizontally on something like a pavement, or next to something. – Soumya Ghosh Dec 7 '18 at 7:03
  • @SoumyaGhosh yeah, makes sense. – Maulik V Dec 7 '18 at 7:12
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I think the two prepositions are for all intents and purposes synonymous in the phrase walking down|along the street. They both mean to make your way on foot, with the street (broadly construed so as to include the pedestrian walkway) being the path you were taking.

When a native speaker says

We were walking down the street.

it does not mean that they were on the roadway used by cars and trucks, but on the sidewalk.

But there are differences with "walk".

You can say

We were just walking along and chatting about our school days.

But you can't say

We were just walking down and chatting about our school days. not idiomatic

In order to use walking down, a prior reference explaining the use of "down" would be needed:

On Sundays, we like to hike up Blueberry Hill, have a picnic at the top, and then return home. One day, as we were walking down, ...

And in that case it would be ellipsis: "... as we were walking down [the hill]"

  • So in conclusion: in a lot of ways they are synonymous, just that walking along could also be used to describe walking next to something like "He walked along the lake, going to his friend's house." or "he walked along the blood stained walls of the corridor". And on the other hand, like you said, in some cases without a prior reference, using "walk down" isn't idiomatic. Am I correct? – Soumya Ghosh Dec 7 '18 at 19:30
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Look at the pictures please:

enter image description here

The people are cycling along the river.

enter image description here

They are floating down the river.

Speaking of the dog, it could actually run down or along the road. But these 2 things may be not the same ("may" because "along" means "moving on or beside a line"). Was there any context given? If not, I'd say "the dog ran down the road."

  • No, no context. – Soumya Ghosh Dec 7 '18 at 7:00
  • it was fill in the blanks type question with four options, two of them being down and along. – Soumya Ghosh Dec 7 '18 at 7:08
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    @SoumyaGhosh I see. Running down the road seems to be more likely. What does the answer key say? – Enguroo Dec 7 '18 at 10:31
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    However I would say along the road unless there was an indication of direction or a slope it's a matter of personal preference. – Sarriesfan Dec 7 '18 at 10:50
  • @Enguroo No answer key. – Soumya Ghosh Dec 7 '18 at 19:05

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