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Thread: Follow the path

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    #1

    Question Follow the path

    Hi, can we use the phrase "follow the path" with the figurative meaning? For example, consider the sentence:
    "Greg and Gerg had followed the path of John Smith's discussion, but failed."

    Thanks in advance,
    Nyggus

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    #2

    Re: Follow the path

    Hello Nyggus

    You could use it like that – though it might sound a little odd to some people, since a path is static, rather than dynamic.

    But you might be more likely to use it as in these examples:

    1. Two Immigrants Who Followed the Path to Citizenship Tell Stories of Detention and Deportation. [From Google]

    — i.e. the "path" is "the series of required steps".

    1. MrP followed the path of Chuang Tzu until he was no longer sure whether he was an Englishman dreaming that he was a screen name or a screen name dreaming that he was an Englishman.

    — i.e. the "path" is "a system of thought".

    (Perhaps other members will have other examples of metaphorical paths.)

    MrP

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    #3

    Re: Follow the path

    Thanks, MrPedantic, I get your point. And what about the construction "head towards the direction ":

    "Greg and Gerg had headed towards the direction that follows from the John Smith's discussion, but failed."

    The sentence is changed, but I think the meaning is the same, isn't it? But is it correct? (Cambridge dictionary gives "towards" in this construction, but someone proposed me to use "to": I'm not sure which one is better.)

    Best,
    Nyggus

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    #4

    Re: Follow the path

    Hello Nyggus

    I'm not quite sure I would say "head towards the direction that follows": it sounds a little strange. These are the usual forms:

    1. He headed towards the door. ] neutral.
    2. He headed in the direction of the door. ] neutral.
    3. He headed for the door. ] not quite neutral; implies more desire to depart.

    In your context, you might say:

    4. Greg headed in the direction indicated by the discussion.

    MrP

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    #5

    Re: Follow the path

    Thanks, MrPedantic. Indeed, this is the construction I didn't think of. "Greg headed in the direction indicated by the discussion" sounds way more better than "Greg headed towards the direction that follows from the discussion."

    By the way, in the above sentence I used the word "way" in the meaning "much"; I heard this many times in spoken English, but haven't ever seen it in written English. I suppose this is casual language then, isn't it? Is this structure used in British English, too?

    Thanks!
    Nyggus

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    #6

    Re: Follow the path

    Hello Nyggus

    You do hear "way" in British English (esp. Scottish English):

    1. That's way too much!
    2. That's way over the limit!

    But as you say, it's not so common in the written language; and most people would probably avoid it in a formal context, except in a set phrase such as:

    3. Way back in the mists of time...

    My dictionary says it's a version of "away", and means "at a great distance", "very far"; it's recorded in Middle English, so is by no means a modern expression!

    MrP

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