Here is a note from a video game:

Go through the fields.
Turn east for half a mile.
It's just past the big rock on the right.

I am not sure about the meaning of the second line. The official Russian translation sounds like Go half a mile and turn east, but shouldn't it be Turn east and go half a mile, with turning east being the first action and going half a mile (eastward) the second one? The preposition for seems to me the purpose of the turning, which is to go half a mile.

  • Should the question be about the translation of the original Russian usage? – Mark G B Mar 19 '16 at 23:36
  • Edit: the question is not clear. Do you really want to know how to interpret the 2nd line of instructions, or do you want to clarify what the translation from Russian should say? – Mark G B Mar 19 '16 at 23:43
  • @CorvusB I wanted to know what the original English sentence really meant, but I appreciated MAKZ's attempt to describe what it would be like if the translation was correct. Chenmunka's answer is also very helpful and interesting, but I can't accept both answers at a time, so I had to decide on only one. – athlonusm Mar 20 '16 at 7:14

Your interpretation is correct. The sentence closely means 'Turn east in order to go next half a mile of your journey', but sounds quite unnatural.

You say "The official Russian translation sounds like Go half a mile and turn east". To match with the Russian instruction, the correct preposition required is after so that the sentence would be 'Turn east after half a mile.


Your assumption is correct in that it means "turn east and then go half a mile".

It is worth noting that this is almost certainly a dialect expression. Certainly in British English "turn ... for ..." is ambiguous and almost never heard. As you say, it could just as easily mean "go half a mile and then turn east". We would use the full sentence as above.

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    I wouldn't call it an "American English expression"... I'd call it "poorly written directions, no matter what dialect you're speaking". – T.J.L. Mar 16 '16 at 13:52
  • @T.J.L. I've only ever heard it from Americans so maybe I'm maligning a whole nation from just a few examples. – Chenmunka Mar 16 '16 at 13:58
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    That was my point, yes. :) It's a big country; there are ways that people in certain parts of the country speak that people in other parts of the country find appalling. – T.J.L. Mar 16 '16 at 14:22
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    I've removed the American references. – Chenmunka Mar 16 '16 at 14:37
  • It might be an American usage. It does not sound unusual to me, but at the same time, it is not clear! Calling it "poorly written directions" fits, I think. – Mark G B Mar 19 '16 at 23:40

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