ground soil dirt

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amby

Banned
chinese
I know that in the following sentence, the best word is ground, but I am not sure the differences and usages of ground, dirt and soil. They all seem to have the same meaning.

The _____ beneath the streets of New York is rock hard enough to take the heaviest load without sinking...

ground dirt soil field
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The ground beneath your feet. I wouldn't use dirt or soil in this case for a couple of reasons: 1) they're usually looser than what you'll find underfoot in New York City, and 2) dirt and soil tend to be just earth, and not the rock that you'll also find underground here. Ground, in this case, is the much more general word. Soil is more relevant to garden/planting. Dirt is not comprehensive enough -- it's just dirt. (Sorry, that wasn't very informative.) :)

    Is this your own sentence? We wouldn't normally use two attributes together: either "rock hard" or "hard enough." Not both. And if you use "rock hard," you need to rephrase.
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    We wouldn't normally use two attributes together: either "rock hard" or "hard enough." Not both. And if you use "rock hard," you need to rephrase.
    I would read the original sentence as ...is rock that is hard enough ....

    Manhattan is solid rock, except in a few places where it was swamp.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Good point. Obviously I was reading it conversationally rather than geologically, e.g. granite versus limestone. Thank you.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    Much of Manhattan Island is formed over an igneous dike, a rock formation called the Manhattan Schist. It's not granite, which is a slightly different type of igneous rock. It's very hard and stable. Especially in upper Manhattan, such as around Columbia University, there are surface outcroppings. You can build anything on top of it and not have to worry about subsidence; the campanile of the cathedral in Pisa wouldn't be the "Leaning Tower" if it had been built on schist. From a geological and construction standpoint, its bedrock. You could call it the "ground," but it's definitely not "soil," "dirt," or a "field," qq.v. in the WR dictionary or other dictionaries.

    Result of a quick and dirty search for Manhattan Schist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_schist

    Schist in general (illustrated with a specimen of Manhattan Schist): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schist
     
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