level <vs> flat

stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

Would you help me with these questions?

The inner wall of a house is flat or level?
The table surface is flat or level?

The carpet is not flat or level; some parts are higher than other parts. Can you level it? Can you make it flat?

The land is not flat or level. We should ( ) it before we plant the vegetables.

"If you are sleepy, you can ( ) the back seats and lie down," the driver said to me.

"Put the jigsaw puzzle pieces into the box."
"Uh oh, I can't close the lid."
"That is because one piece is put agaisnt the lid, you should ( ) it before closing the lid. "


Thanks!
 
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  • Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    If a table is flat, that means that it has nothing sticking out from it.

    If a table is level, that means that a plumb line would be at right-angles to all its axes, i.e. that a spirit level's air bubble would be in the centre when the level is placed on any axis.

    Thus walls aren't usually level, though they may be flat.

    Not everyone is very strict in observing this distinction.
     

    Destruida

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    You would level the garden. Flattening it gives me the image of a huge machine compacting the soil to make a car park!
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Member Emeritus
    English - England
    A level is like a height. Things can be on the same level (at the same height), or level with each other (meaning abreast, in a race, for instance).

    I'm not sure whether when Destruida levels her garden, she makes it level or flat. I don't think it can be level but inclined.
     

    Destruida

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    A level is like a height. Things can be on the same level (at the same height), or level with each other (meaning abreast, in a race, for instance).

    I'm not sure whether when Destruida levels her garden, she makes it level or flat. I don't think it can be level but inclined.

    You're right as always, Livesey. (Treasure Island.) I wasn't picturing a sloping garden and now I wonder what term I'd use instead, for a sloping one.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There has been a lot of debate on this topic, some of it emotional, on Internet air travel discussion sites.

    Several airlines have business class seats that recline to form a straight line from footrest to headrest. However, they are not quite horizontal. The foot is lower than the head. That allows one traveler's feet to be under the next row's head. The airline can then put more rows of seats in the plane than it could if the seats did not overlap in this way. (One example is here. You can see the slope in the picture at the lower right.)

    Some airlines call these seats "lie-flat" seats. People complain that they are not horizontal, or level. Some people agree that this is false advertising. Other say that, as long as the airlines don't call those seats "level" or "horizontal," "flat" can be used correctly.

    Those discussions have never, as far as I know, succeeded in reaching agreement. Each airline, or each travel information site such as seatguru.com, uses its own definitions for these seats. I doubt we will reach complete agreement here.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Most of your sentences sound highly unnatural to my AE ear. I suspect they were not written by a native speaker of English.

    For example: Out here in farm country, we never talk of "leveling" or "flattening" the land for planting. We till it or plow it and for vegetables we often make raised beds.

    We level land when we want to build something on it, including a garden or parking lot. It certainly doesn't happen every year.
     
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    Destruida

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    The carpet can't be levelled, in my opinion. I suppose it could be flattened or smoothed, but only a bit. One wouldn't describe it in those terms anyway; one would probably say it had a rough surface.
    The car seats can be tilted back, or inclined. If they could be tilted back so much that they were horizontal, what would one say?
    For a sloping garden, I might say level the surface.
    The jigsaw piece could be pushed down, but level and flat don't fit at all.
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The car seats can be tilted back, or inclined. If they could be tilted back so much that they were horizontal, what would one say?

    Can you say "the car seats can be reclined" if they were horizontal?

    I have looked up "recline" in WR dictioanry, and found an example like this.
     
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