I came across this sentence:

background - the character Rick was kidnapped by a bad guy and then there is this dialogue

Well... Let's get everybody to the hangar.We'll warm up the quinjet and try a trace signal on Rick's physiological

And I can't understand the prepositions in this sentence. First, why try a trace signal. As far as I've seen they usually say:

try to trace signal.

and I also don't understand the preposition on:

a trace signal on Rick's physiological

Isn't it correct to use of together with signal?

a trace signal of Rick's physiological

Or does on refer to not signal ? I hope the question is not too silly ,I would be happy to help.

2 Answers 2


I'd imagine that what's going on here is that "trace signal" should be understood to be in quotation marks, and that their computer or other gadget has a button somewhere labelled "Trace Signal", and they're so used to this device that they just call it "a 'Trace Signal'". It's not strictly grammatical, but people do talk like that sometimes - for instance, you often see "I'll use the 'find-and-replace' in my word processor". The team are skipping words because they're in a hurry and because they're so familiar with the jargon that they don't need to spell it out in full:

We'll try [running] a "Trace Signal" [function] on Rick's physiological [readings].

This kind of language is often used in action films, to show how highly trained the team are and how much of a hurry they're in.

  • Whoa! Thank you for such an excellent explanation
    – Loken
    Jun 6, 2021 at 22:21
  • :-) Thank you. Nice to hear.
    – A. B.
    Jun 7, 2021 at 14:45

Well being as a Quinjet exists in Marvel Cinematic Universe, they can could and will say anything they think fits with the story so trying to determine the correctness of the "trace signal on Rick's physiological" seems a little pointless

I would suggest you ignore the remark as you have done with origins/physical possibility of the Quinjet and just enjoy the show.

  • ahaha, ok, thanks for the answer
    – Loken
    Jun 6, 2021 at 9:53

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