< descend/walk down> from the mountaintop.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by senaka, May 18, 2017.

  1. senaka Senior Member

    Hi all. How are you? I have a question. Could you tell me which of the following sentences sound natural to you?

    1. I descended from the mountaintop.

    2. I walked down from the mountaintop.

    My English teacher told me that "descend" is unnatural here. He said I could say "Angels descending from heaven." but if I were just walking down from the stairs or mountain, descending is not an appropriate word.

    Is my English teacher correct?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Hi. "Descended" is possible, but "walked down" sounds more ordinary and colloquial. "Descended" sounds somewhat literary.
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Your English teacher might be right or wrong, depending upon the context.

    We tend to use "descend" in my experience when the object is relatively steep or vertical.

    Mountain climbers talk of 'ascents" and "descents." No mountain climber would ever use "walk" on a difficult mountain such as K2, the Eiger or the Matterhorn.

    On the other hand, there's a "mountain" near me called "Dixie Mountain" that one can walk up and down with ease.

    You might wish to review the use of ascent and descent here:

    Climb The Matterhorn / Alpine Mountaineering / What we do / High Mountain Guides - Chamonix Mountain Guides offering Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Off-Piste Skiing, Touring & Vallee Blanche
  4. RedwoodGrove

    RedwoodGrove Senior Member

    Northern California
    English, USA
    While your teacher is correct that in most situations it might sound unnatural, don't forget that there are reasons why English has so many words available to express essentially the same thing.
  5. senaka Senior Member

    Thank you, owlman5!

    You mean "Descended" sounds posh or exaggerated?

    Thanks for your help.

    P.S. Sorry I didn't notice other people's post when I post this. My question is solved. Thanks you.
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I don't use "posh"*, senaka, but "descended" sounds more like written rather than spoken language to me.

    SD Graham has reminded us that "descend" can be normally used to describe difficult, technical descents from mountains. If you merely walked down the mountain and the mountain wasn't especially difficult to walk down, I'd rather hear "I walked down the mountain."

    *This is mostly a British word. Being an American, I'd probably use "fancy" if I wanted to say that.
  7. senaka Senior Member

    Thanks sdgraham and RedWoodGrove.

    Now I understand subtle differences between walk down and descend! It was a great help. Thank you!:)
  8. senaka Senior Member

    Thank you, owlman5 for the further explanation.

    I understand it clearly now.:)
  9. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    In my mind, the word isn't as unusual as it appears to be for some other people here.

    I would normally come down the stairs but descend a staircase.

    I see nothing wrong with sentence #1 absent any other context.

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