Learn English – ‘Walked on foot’ or ‘gone on foot’


Which one is true?

He had walked there on foot.


He had gone there on foot.

Since 'walk' means 'to move or go somewhere by putting one foot in front of the other on the ground [Oxford Dictionary]', is it true to use it with 'on foot'?

Best Answer

Redundancy for emphasis

You are correct that adding "on foot" is redundant, since "walk" already implies that. However, saying "walk on foot" is still grammatical. "On foot" functions as an adverb modifying "walk". It's redundant, but it adds emphasis. A person might say "walk on foot" in a situation where they wanted to emphasize the fact that you're not driving, or perhaps that a person's sore leg would give them pain.

Many common English constructions use redundancy for emphasis or extra clarity. Here are a couple more examples:

Let's walk on up the hill.

You could just say "Let's walk up the hill." The "on" just adds some extra emphasis, also suggesting that you are continuing your current walk. Consecutive prepositions often work this way.

It may be possible to find you a direct flight to Manchester.

"May" means "possibly", so technically that's redundant. One could also say, "Possibly you could find a direct flight to Manchester." Using two constructions in the same sentence that both mean "possibly" adds emphasis, either suggesting that the possibility is unlikely or expressing optimism by emphasizing the possibility.

If you'd like to read more about this, look up "pleonasm". Something like it probably happens in your native language, too.

Extended meanings

There's another reason why someone might say "walk on foot": you might have just been using the word "walk" in an extended sense. For example, you might just have been talking about riding in an Imperial Walker from Star Wars:

Imperial Walker

or referring to this old slogan from U.S. telephone companies, encouraging customers to look up a phone number in the phone book and call ahead before visiting a business:

enter image description here

or any of thousands of other possibilities.

Dictionary definitions can't possibly explain all the meanings that people can give a word. But people usually understand the difference between a primary meaning and an extended meaning. Redundancy can often help discourage a listener from understanding a word in an extended meaning in a situation where the extended meaning might seem relevant.

Picture sources: starwars.com, Cazbah.

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