Can you help me understand these two expressions from a text I am reading?

  1. “a father figure of sorts”
  2. “if he could run something past him”

Let’s take a look at the expression “a father figure of sorts” first.

The noun “father figure” refers to an older man that seems like or acts like a father to somebody even though they aren’t related. This male figure treats the person like a son or daughter by giving them advice, supporting them or guiding them in some way. The young person trusts this figure and relies on him for emotional support and advice.

A lot of young people whose biological father is absent for some reason or they have lost their own father may turn to an older male figure as a kind of substitute for their biological father. The young person holds a lot of respect for this father figure and may see him as a role model. This father figure has a lot of responsibility as the young person is relying on them for guidance and emotional support.

When we say “a father figure of sorts” it means the older man is kind of like a father figure to the younger person but he isn’t an absolute father figure to the young person. The idiom “of sorts” is demonstrating that this older male figure isn’t totally perceived as a father figure by the younger person, but he is admired and respected by the younger person.

If we used an adverb of degree such as  “indeed” it would mean that the older man is a true father figure to the younger person.

However, if we said “he is hardly a father figure to the boy” this would mean that the older man and the boy have a very poor relationship maybe because the older man isn’t very influential in the boy’s life or because the boy doesn’t trust him or see him as a role model.

Now, let’s see what “if he could run something past him” means.

The phrasal verb “to run something past somebody” means to inform somebody about a certain topic or issue, to ensure that the person understands or approves of the topic or issue. We use it when we want to draw somebody’s attention to a particular topic and maybe get their opinion on the matter.

Here are some examples of the phrasal verb:

  • The team had to run the project past their manager before they could present it to the chairpeople. The manager wanted to approve the project before it was seen by the chairpeople.
  • “Can I go to the birthday party this weekend?” the daughter asked her father “You should run it past your mother first, I think she has plans for this weekend” the father replied”.
  • The students decided to run the difficult exercise past his teacher, he wanted to get his teacher’s opinion and support.
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