Couldn't you explain the meaning of the following simple sentence (the standalone sentence, provided as an example from PEU)

They're widening the road here

What confused me was that the phrase they're widening means to become wider. The first thought that popped into my head was that the road was getting wider there, but the road is a singular count noun.


This example uses the active voice. The example is in Standard English, but is informal.

"They" = the road crew, or the paving contractors

"are" = are in the process of, or are planning to

"widening" = making wider

"the road" = the particular road that is being discussed

"here" = in this area, or along this stretch

Here are some examples of road-widening projects:

  • Start with a narrow trail through a forest. Chop down any trees or plants that make it hard to walk along the trail.
  • Start with a 4 foot wide sidewalk. Line both edges with bricks, to make a 5 foot wide sidewalk.
  • Start with a country road that is just one lane wide. Build a second lane.
  • Start with a string of floating barges on a lake. There is a road across the tops of the barges -- it goes from one barge to the next, all the way across the lake. The road is two lanes in each direction, with no shoulders at the sides of the road. Build a new set of barges big enough to put three lanes in each direction, with wide shoulders. Include an extra lane for bicycles.
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  • But is it make a sense that the road crew (a group of people, as I understand) is making wider on the road? What does it mean? – Dmitrii Bundin Jan 7 '15 at 4:19
  • They are making the road wider. – ssav Jan 7 '15 at 12:36

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