0

Once, my friend and I wanted to go to some place, so we took a tram (train) to reach this place but we missed our destination twice, forward and backward, because we were busy talking to each other.

I want to say that the tram (train) was going forward and passed our station, then it reached the end of the line, and then it went back on the same line and passed our station once again. The problem is that the expression "forward and backward" is a literal translation from my language, and I'm not sure whether it works in English and whether it gives the same meaning. What a native English speaker would say?

  • Not a native speaker, but I'm sure forward/backward would not mean what you are trying to say! It'd rather depict that the train is adjusting itself on the track! – Maulik V Nov 26 '19 at 6:37
  • You'll have to split a sentence to avoid ambiguity: we were so busy talking to each other that we missed our station and reached the last station; and again, the second time while coming back! – Maulik V Nov 26 '19 at 6:44
  • 1
    ...because we were busy talking to each other. – Michael Harvey Nov 26 '19 at 18:23
  • 1
    Once, my friend and I wanted to go to some place – Michael Harvey Nov 26 '19 at 18:24
  • .......missed our destination twice, when the train was on it's way forward and backward/to and fro, because ....... – Khan Jan 29 at 17:06
0

"Backwards and forwards" is an idiomatic expression (usually spoken in that order, rather than 'forwards and backwards'). It literally means travelling back and forth over the same journey (ie commuting daily to work would involve travelling one way, then the other), but it can also figuratively mean any kind of repetitive or fruitless work (eg "I've been going backwards and forwards over these numbers all night and I can't make any sense of them!")

In your example sentence, it seems that you literally went over the same part of a journey repeatedly, so it needs introducing properly. Here are two ways you could use it (I've made some other grammatical changes too):

Once, my friend and I wanted to go to some place, so we took a tram to get there but we missed our stop twice. We ended up going backwards and forwards because we were busy talking to each other.

or

Once, my friend and I wanted to go to some place, so we took a tram to get there but we missed our stop twice because we were busy talking to each other. We ended up going backwards and forwards until we finally reached our destination.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Or "We missed our stop on both the outward and return journeys". – Kate Bunting Nov 26 '19 at 9:38
  • @KateBunting That certainly is another way of saying it and there are probably countless more ways, but it doesn't use the phrase which is the subject of the question. – Astralbee Nov 26 '19 at 9:39
  • The OP asked whether the phrase works in English and if it's what a native speaker would say. I supplied what I consider to be the most idiomatic version. – Kate Bunting Nov 26 '19 at 9:45
0

Unlike Astralbee, I do not live where "backwards and forwards" is a common phrase at all. The equivalent to what you are trying to say is "coming and going" or more rarely "going and coming."

Because most people know that buses and trams make round trips from A to B and then from B to A, I think you can stay very close to the original and be understood.

Once, my friend and I wanted to go to X, so we took the tram to go there, but missed our stop twice, both going and coming back, because we were so busy talking to each other.

Now if you want to be sure that those who do not understand how public transit works will get it, you will need to do more, but I suspect that your audience will be familiar with the mechanics of riding public transit.

One other point. "Tram" is not a common word in the US. In most parts of the US, local passenger trains no longer exist, nor do street cars. If you want to be understood in the US I suggest that you say "public transit" or "public transportation," which are terms that cover trains, streetcars, and buses.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.