... I had heard down the well


Senior Member

I din't understand why the preposition down was used in this case...

Context: A man is evoking the sounds he heard when he was underground, among a weird society of beings. He had got there by climbing down one of the many wells there were on the surface of earth.
And then in the remote blackness of the gallery I heard a peculiar pattering, and the same odd noises I had heard down the well.
From "The Time Machine" by George Wells

As far as I know, down can mean the same as along in some contexts, which at first sight suits the context, but the thing is he didn't feel those odd noises he talks of when he was moving along the tunnel (well), but rather when he had got to the bottom of the well; when he sort of landed on "firm underground"... Can it mean in this case ...I had heard down (= at the bottom of) the well?

  • Mick

    Senior Member
    British English
    As far as I know, down can mean the same as along in some contexts
    Yes, that's correct, for example: "The car continued down the road..." = "The car continued along the road..."

    "Down" used by Wells in this instance means "in", ie, "Noises I had heard in the well", either before he's reached the bottom, or when he's right at the bottom.


    Senior Member
    England English
    Well, that might well be so, Mick, but since nothing was heard in Wells's well until the man got to the bottom, I think we can assume it meant there.

    The cat fell down the well.
    Therefore, the cat is down the well. <=== where the man is when he hears the noise.
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