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Michael IELTS Band 9
Professional Teacher
Correct but strange (4): the horrible verb "spread" (1 of 2)

“Spread” is quite a common verb and its general meaning is familiar to most students from lower intermediate level upwards, in my experience. However, it is a horrible word to use consistently accurately. 

When preparing this discussion, I thought about the various possible ways to use the word “spread”.  I could think of so many ways that it helped me realise why students sometimes use this word wrongly or strangely.  If you check a dictionary definition of “spread”, this will become obvious to you too, and some of you may already have realised that it is a tricky word to use well. 

With this in mind, this two-part discussion will focus mainly on one common but strange usage of “spread”.  In order to stimulate your interest, this discussion will be in two parts.  My challenge to you today is to identify the one sentence below which uses “spread” strangely.  When you answer, please give a reason for your answer, and if you are really keen, say how you would correct it.  Tomorrow, all will be revealed!


Sentences with “spread”: spot the strange one

 1.       The company’s international offices are spread across all 6 continents.

 2.       I usually spread marmalade all over my morning toast so that it reaches every corner of it.

 3.       The company spread a competitive tender for the manufacture of 10,000 high-precision widgets to the market.

 4.       I went to work with a cold last Wednesday, and now it is spreading to my colleagues.

Sep 12, 2016 6:28 AM
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Comments · 9

Thank you @Michael for another interesting lesson:)

Well, I found the third sentence a little strange but I know there are so many strange sentences in English I've not yet come across:)

BTW, as the sentence is---The company spread a competitive tender for the manufacture of 10,000 high-precision widgets to the market.

"Spread" we usually use as you have used in other examples like to spread something around or to make something multiple in number in different regions.

But here, as the company just want to give a tender or project to some other small companies or someone making that things,so it's a kind of assignment and if I'll take the real meaning of spread then definitely it is not appropriate here.

So can we use here "Call for" or "arrange" in place of "Spread".

Am I right or I'll get my answer in part-2:)

Thank you:)

September 13, 2016
Moritz and Hmano are correct.  Thanks for all the replies.  See Part 2 of this discussion which will be posted shortly.
September 13, 2016

I think, the 3rd is wrong.  It would be 'issued a competitive tender'.  ?

September 12, 2016

For no. 3 I feel there should be a different verb: They may have sent notifications about the tender to different manufactureres, but still I wouldn't say they spread the tender. I think you could say they spread information about the tender in question.

With the help of a bilingual dictionary I suggest:

The company invited a (competitive) tender for the manufacture of (...)

the company tendered the manufacture of (...)

September 12, 2016
The 2nd one seems strange. 
September 12, 2016
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Michael IELTS Band 9
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
German, Italian