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Hi,

I composed a few sentences featuring "runer-up", could you run your eye over them and tell me if you have any problem with any of them, please? ))) Do they sound natural to a native speaker's ear?

1. The closest runner-up to the winner of the contest was awarded an empty dixie cup.

2. In this contest the first runner-up gets a free mug of coffee

3. My dad entered many contests in his life and once even won runner-up prize.

I guess I can't say "the runner-up prize" in sentence #3 because it would suggest that there was only one runner-up prize, and there may have been as many as four runner-up prizes, right ?

Thanks for any assistance !
Comments  

I've always taken "runner-up" to mean the second place finisher, therefore you can't have the "closest runner-up" or "first runner-up."

Although, see this wikipedia article for a somewhat different understanding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runner-up


1. The closest runner-up to the winner of the contest was awarded an empty dixie cup.
2. In this contest the first runner-up gets a free mug of coffee
3. My dad has entered many contests in his life and once was even the won runner-up prize.


Even as corrected number three sounds odd and is not something I would expect from a native speaker.

Hi, Ray


Thanks for your corrections and that article in Wiki was really insightful.

In fact before posting I had looked up the word "runner-up" and it was defined just as you defined it. Then I went to http://www.americancorpus.com/ for samples and heads-up on its usage, to see it used in actual speech and there I saw sentences that pointedly suggested that there can be more than one runner-up in any given contest. This shook my trust in the definition I had previously found in the dictionary, which clearly stated that the runner-up is a contestant who comes in second in a competition. Now, thanks to that wiki article I know that only in beauty pageants do we have several runners-up. )))

I think I see the problem with #3 - its the part that states "he was the runner-up" I guess it would sound better if I changed it to "once he came in second place", right?


Thanks again !

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Starting from your original I would rephrase number three something like this:

My dad has entered many contests in his life and once he even came in in second place.

And yes, your grammer checking program (if you use one) will throw a fit over the double "in" but it fits here and is the only way this sounds "right" to my ear.