Vegas's altitude, the altitude of Vegas, etc [possessive with inanimate objects]

G.Determinism

Senior Member
Persian
Greetings,

I'm wondering if I've used the word altitude properly in the following sentences.

1. Vegas is at an altitude of 2000 meters.
2. Vegas has an altitude of 2000 meters.
3. Vegas's altitude is 2000 meters.
4. The altitude of Vegas's is 2000 meters.
5. The altitude in Vegas is 2000 meters.


Thanks a lot
 
  • Retired-teacher

    Senior Member
    British English
    1, 2 and 5 are correct. 3 would be all right but I personally don't like s's in any context. 4 would be correct if you remove apostrophe s from Vegas.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks a lot, Retired-teacher.

    With regard to 4, why do I need to remove apostrophe s? Isn't it like: A fan of Federer's, A friend of Moe's?


    Thanks
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    So I can safely use any of the followings without being wrong: Vegas's altitude, Vegas altitude, the altitude of vegas and the altitude of vegas's

    Am I right?

    Thanks
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think this 'double possessive' only works when the 'possessor' is human.
    So if Vegas were a person (first name Johnny, perhaps) I would see nothing wrong with "a friend of Vegas's".
    This may be the origin of a misunderstanding in how learners are taught about possessives. I think you are right that in this case, the 's can only be added to humans (living things?) but often the rule taught is extended to every situation where 's could be added even if there is no of beforehand: They are taught that The table's leg etc is incorrect. This thread Saxon genitive for things illustrates that a learner was taught 's cannot be added in such situations. If the rule is stated more narrowly as the one that applied in the current thread, we can say that the 's cannot be added to noun B in the structure: "A {noun A} of {noun B}" if noun B is inanimate.

    So

    The table's leg :tick: The leg of the table's :cross: The leg of the table:tick:
    Bill's friend :tick: A friend of Bill's :tick:
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Getting back to your original question, you have not used the word "altitude" correctly in any of your examples.

    You may speak of the altitude of an airplane in flight, but when you are speaking of how far a city is above sea level, then the normal word to use is elevation, and not altitude.

    Also note that Las Vegas is 2000 feet above sea level, and not 2000 meters. If you want to use the metric system, then the elevation of Las Vegas is only approximately 610 meters.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Sorry for the delay and thanks for the correction, GWB.

    As for the word altitude and its proper usage, please have a look at this article on the Los Angeles Times: Tennis Roundup : Teen-Ager Agassi Upsets Cash; Mayotte Loses to Rive
    Where Agassi said: "I like playing in high altitude."

    GWB, I'm sot sure its as definitive as that - see altitude - WordReference.com Dictionary of English. Some of the threads show that some people use elevation for something that is on the ground and altitude only for something above it, but it does not seem to be universal. (But the correction to 610 m :thumbsup:)
    Many thanks, Julian.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    This altitude versus elevation debate has also occurred as an off-topic digression in another thread, but I can't recall which one. Another name for mountain sickness is altitude sickness, not elevation sickness. Most climbers of Everest have used oxygen because of the altitude, not because of the elevation - physiologists discuss the cardiovascular and respiratory effects of altitude, not of elevation. Cartographers will give the elevation of Everest, not its altitude.

    There's considerable overlap in usage, as many dictionaries make clear.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    One commonly uses "altitude" when speaking of great heights, and therefore it is not inappropriate when speaking of mountains, or even cities that are unusually high above sea level. On the other hand, to say that London is at an "altitude" (rather than an elevation) of 35 metres/115 feet above sea level would sound absurd.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    My garden is at an altitude of about 10 metres above Ordnance Datum Newlyn. I don't find that at all absurd.
    It's also at an elevation of about 10 metres above the same datum. I don't find that absurd either.

    If you look for "altitude" in the Wordreference Dictionary you'll find that the Random House AE definitions are substantially different from the Collins BE definitions. Two nations divided by a common tongue, I suggest.
     
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