+0
According to superstition, coming across a black cat may bring bad luck.

Hi,

Is it OK to replace "coming across" in the above with "running into?" Thanks.
1 2
Comments  
That would be a perfectly natural replacement.

Let me add that in my experience the superstition requires that the black cat cross your path.
Hi,

According to superstition, coming across a black cat may bring bad luck.

Is it OK to replace "coming across" in the above with "running into?"

No. 'Running into' is usually used for people that we know, but not for any animals.

'Coming across' means 'encountering by accident'. The form of the superstition that I know is that it is unlucky if a black cat crosses your path, ie walks across in front of you.

Best wishes, Clive
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Avangi
That would be a perfectly natural replacement.

Let me add that in my experience the superstition requires that the black cat cross your path.

Thanks, Avangi.

Do you mean that in fact there are subtle nuances between "coming/running across" and "running into?"
I'll defer to Clive on that. I would have said you can run into an animal. Just pray it's not a moose at 60 mph.
Clive
Hi,

According to superstition, coming across a black cat may bring bad luck.

Is it OK to replace "coming across" in the above with "running into?"

No. 'Running into' is usually used for people that we know, but not for any animals.

'Coming across' means 'encountering by accident'. The form of the superstition that I know is that it is unlucky if a black cat crosses your path, ie walks across in front of you.

Best wishes, Clive

Thanks, Clive and Avangi.

But I still have some question.

Shouldn't the base sentence be reworded as "According to superstition, a black cat coming across you may bring bad luck?" It's the cat not you that comes/walks in front of you, as a matter of fact. Am I reasonable?
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hi,

coming across a black cat This does not mean literally that something 'moves across'. 'To come across' is an idiom that means 'to find accidentally'.

eg When I was looking in my desk drawer for my keys, I came across a bill I had forgotten to pay.

So, if you really want the literal meaning of 'crossing in front', you should avoid this idiom. Instead, say something like 'A black cat crossed in front of me'.

Best wishes, Clive
In a certain sense, coming across and running into do share some slight similarity IMO.
Let's say you are traveling in the Serengeti Safari on a Jeep and from a distance you see a herd of migrating wilder beasts. You can say in your journal " May 3rd, 2000. As we drove across the Safari early morning, we came cross / ran into .....a herd...." In this context, both imply a sense of unexpectance. However, the real meaning of running into is you met the herd head-on and subsequently engulfed by the dust storm as they passed you by. Come across on the other hand, they crossed the path of your travel, or encountered their presence briefly. Just my 2 cents....
I was about to say I changed my mind to agree completely with Clive, that "to run into" applies only to people. Then I ran into Goodman's post.

The consensus seems to be that "coming across" shows more unexpectedness than "running into." I no longer agree with that. As I play with scenarios in my mind I find it's even more likely with "running into" that both parties (if living) are taken by surprise. I think there's a better chance that with "coming across" one of the "parties" may be inanimate. "While hiking through the woods, we came across an old abandoned fort." "While hiking through the woods we ran into (startled) a pair of deer who were mating."

The expression "stumbled upon" is becoming quite popular on the net. I think there's more of this flavor in "ran into" than there is in "came across." "While researching my paper in the library I came across an interesting source." I was pleased but not necessarily surprised. "While weeding the garden I ran into an 1890 silver dollar." (Not convincing?)
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more