I saw meaning like "to seek shelter" in translate services for this sentence:

They had arrived to the bus stop after running to the road seeking shelter.

I knew how to refer to purpose with "to + verb" but I didn't know with "gerund". Is it possible? What is the grammar topic about it?

  • 1
    This is a participial phrase.
    – stangdon
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 21:20
  • Thanks but still I don't understand how "seeking" means "to seek"?
    – user123960
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 7:48
  • @Jeff, The example says that they ran to the road, not along it. Perhaps the bus stop was at the end of a drive, where it met the road. Perhaps they were running out of a wood or field. Possibly "along the road" was meant, in which case the example failed to convey that meaning correctly. But I see no reason to assume that. Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 15:42
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    @user123960 "Seeking X they did Y" means "they did Y while seeking X" and usually means that seeking X was the purpose of doing Y, although it can mean that the two actions occurred at the same time. The same is true with many participle phrases. Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


Well, the sentence as a whole is not particularly idiomatic and is certainly awkward. The meaning is

Seeking shelter, they ran along the road to the bus stop.


They ran along the road to the bus stop while [they were] seeking shelter.

In other words, "seeking shelter" is not being used as a gerund but as a participle.


The example sentence

They had arrived to the bus stop after running to the road seeking shelter.

is grammatical and could be said by any fluent speaker, except that "arrived at the bus stop" would be the usual way of putting it. But thast has noting to do with the use of "seeking" The words "seeking shelter" here do indeed indicate the purpose of the the people represented by "they". Giving an indication of purpose through "-ing" forms (whether gerunds or participles) is common.

Some examples I have just created:

  • She was finding her way through the forest.
  • He was looking for a suitable house.
  • He was trying the door, but found it locked.
  • Flying from t4eh attacker,. she ran into the road.
  • She opened her arms in a caring gesture.
  • He wrestled with the problem, searching for a solution.

Note this Google Ngram comparing "seeking shelter" with "to seek shelter"

  • Thanks. I can easily understand your examples but the sentence which I found is so strange and also so unusual, seemingly.
    – user123960
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 21:14
  • 1
    @user123960 The example is a little more complex, with its form "They X after Y seeking Z". It is not fully clear if "seeking shelter" applies to running along the road, or arriving at the bus stop, or both. But I don't find it so very unusual or unidiomatic, except for the use of "at" that I mentioned. "Seeking shelter" is a very common phrase, and would generally indicate purpose. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 21:19
  • @DavidSiegel The only substantive difference between your great answer, which I am upvoting, is that you accord the example an idiomatic status that I think unwarranted. Did they run to the road or to the bus stop? You cannot run to two different destinations simultaneously. The double “to” makes little sense, and the “arrived to” is simply not idiomatic. I am a native speaker, and I am not sure exactly what the meaning is. Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 12:08
  • @Jeff Morrow I agree that " arrived to" is not idiomatic, and i said so in the answer. Perhaps i should have emphasized that more, but it seems unrelated to the point of the question. As to the meaning of the example, the obvious meaning seems to be "They ran to the road in search of shelter, and then arrived at the bus stop" but it could mean that "they" were still seeking shelter when they got to the bus stop. It is somewhat ambiguous, but so are many idiomatic sentences in English. Once "at" is substituted for the first "to" is there really a serious further problem in your view? Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 15:36
  • @DavidSiegel I was not saying that your answer was wrong. I upvoted it. If we assume that "arrived" was the meaning intended, then "to" is not idiomatic. The OP found the sentence "strange" and "unusual." I agree, and I do not think the strangeness is fixed simply by replacing "to" with "at." "They ran to the road seeking shelter." In what sense does a road give or seek shelter? What is most idiomatic is to place modifiers close to the word modified. The idiomatic way to say this is "They were seeking shelter so they ..." Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 20:58

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