the gate was just an opening

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Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
He came to the gate which was just an opening and saw a courtyard and the steps leading into the main building. A gate that could have closed the opening, had been swung back and left open.The Old Man walked up the steps and entered through the main doors of the Federal Building.

Source: The Old Man and the Wasteland By Nick Cole
Background: He came to the base of the Federal Building

I am confused by it. Would you help me understand the meaning of ""the gate which was just an opening"? I guess the paragraph is describing one gate. At first, I thought "the gate which was just an opening" meaned the door part of the gate was gone, but the second highlighted sentence seems to indicate that the door part was still there.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    I too am confused. There are 3 meanings (at least relevant to the question) to 'gate' You can see one HERE (Menin Gate) a more practical and common 'gate' leading to a courtyard HERE i.e. the archway, and the other obvious one HERE

    So it is possible for a gate to have a gate.
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