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I read the following dialogue which I think is quite weird.

  • Look! Some people are running the red lights.
  • We should wait although others are breaking the rule.

I don't think the sentence "Some people are running the red lights" is correct. Suppose there is a scene: There is the red light, but we still run across the road without stopping. We can't say "we are running the red light", right? So how to say it in an authentic way?

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    I'd rephrase the second sentence: We should wait, even if others are breaking the rule. The word "although" isn't wrong per se, but there's an awkward ring to it.
    – J.R.
    Jul 30, 2013 at 10:40
  • what does "an awkward ring" mean?
    – user48070
    Aug 1, 2013 at 1:50
  • It sounds "off". Awkward is an oft-used term in grammar when a wording isn't wrong, but it could be made to flow in a more natural way. More on that HERE. As for ring, that's meaning #5 on this page.
    – J.R.
    Aug 1, 2013 at 1:54

1 Answer 1

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"Run a red light" is an idiomatic expression which means "to pass through an intersection while the traffic light is red without stopping."

So there is nothing "weird" in that dialogue and, as far as I can tell, using idiomatic English is pretty "authentic" as long as you correctly use it.

(Reference: "Dictionary of American Idioms" by R.A. Spears".)

The idiom is also used in British English along with "jumping a red light". Discussion in the comments revealed that "breaking a red light" is used in Ireland.

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    "Running a red light" is an American idiom. The equivalent in British English is "breaking a red light".
    – Frank H.
    Jul 30, 2013 at 8:08
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    @FrankH. Breaking?! That must be pretty expensive to replace every time! ;) Oh, you Brits... ;) Carlo, +1!
    – WendiKidd
    Jul 30, 2013 at 14:01
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    @FrankH.as a Brit I don't think I've ever heard "breaking a red light". My experience is that both "running" and "jumping" are common British usage, and FWIW Google Ngrams for British English seems to agree. Jul 30, 2013 at 18:24
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    @NigelHarper and WendiKidd, I stand corrected. On further investigation it seems "breaking a red light" is an Irish phenomenon - rather like myself :-) We have many English-language idioms that are Ireland-specific, but it didn't occur to me that this could be one of them!
    – Frank H.
    Jul 30, 2013 at 23:15
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    Nigel, you're right. I haven't heard British people use "breaking a red light". I've only heard "jumping a red light".
    – Tristan
    Jul 31, 2013 at 21:04

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