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Chase
12-08-2014, 02:04 AM
Okay, my turn at the bottom of the dogpile (again).

Lately, I’m reading along in a novel or manuscript by a young author. The main character is inside a residence or other building, takes a punch or bullet, and falls to the ground.

Instantly, I wonder if our hero fell out of a window. I was raised on a farm where the ground was dirt or in the middle of a grassy field.

This “indoor ground” thing hasn’t been a one-time thing. Three younger clients do it continually, and I’ve noticed a lot of other editors letting it slip into print so much so that I’m wondering if the meaning of ground has evolved in recent years?

If your MC is indoors, shouldn't he or she fall to the floor, carpet, rug, hardwood, tile, linoleum, parquet, rug, or basement concrete instead of the ground?

Chase, old-school oldster ready to be schooled

Jerboa
12-08-2014, 02:09 AM
I've never heard of the 'ground' being anything other than outside.

evilrooster
12-08-2014, 02:49 AM
I've heard "ground" being used for "floor" (in the sense of the indoor lower surface) in some American dialects, but I can't really pinpoint which. I've seen two classes of this use:

(more common): restricted to the phrase fall to the ground, as Chase reports. I think the first time I heard this phrase was about a Pentacostal churchgoer in the midst of a religious experience. I've also heard it of food dropped in indoor spaces ("you just dropped your hot dog on the ground" in a restaurant setting).

I'd say this is effectively a verb phrase in a fair number of American dialects. I wouldn't use it in formal prose, but I wouldn't blink at it in dialog or casual prose (even without a strong "voice"). I can easily picture an editor not picking up on it if it were in their dialect.

(less common, markedly rural): a universal permitted substitution of "ground" for "floor". I've heard this mostly from people coming from small towns. I think one of my college dorm-mates from the California Central Valley used it, but I could be mistaken. I would expect a careful editor to catch this usage.

M.S. Wiggins
12-08-2014, 02:53 AM
I've seen this 'falling to the ground' within the confines of 'walls' in writing before, and it always jars me. In my opinion, you fall to the floor (or its synonymous coverings) inside, or fall to the ground (or its earthly—or non-earthly—synonyms) outside.

Ken
12-08-2014, 04:05 AM
not according to the dictionary,
but the word might still be stretched to fit
sometimes you can get away with that / not really here b/c floor serves equally well and there's no need to be inventive
my two cents

King Neptune
12-08-2014, 04:56 AM
If the building has an earthen floor, then it would be fine. I may have heard that said in conversation, but it's the sort of thing that would have been followed by a correction.

Maryn
12-08-2014, 05:27 PM
The last critique I did had exactly that issue. People seemed to be indoors but fell to the ground, which made me question what little I knew of the setting.

It's a common mistake, one that's easy to correct by naming the surface to which they actually fall--the tile, the floor, the rug, the pitted concrete, whatever.

Maryn, who falls to her knees (ouch!) because she tiled the kitchen with knees

Bufty
12-08-2014, 07:21 PM
I suspect that more often than not it's not necessary to say what surface the character fell onto.

Chase
12-08-2014, 08:11 PM
I'm floored by the support for outdoor grounds--and somewhat relieved the language hadn't changed, and I missed the memo.

As King Neptune mentioned, there are exceptions. We can't forget his ocean floor. :D And Macy's in Salem has signs directing customers to its ground floor.

Jamesaritchie
12-08-2014, 08:54 PM
It's wrong. Period. If there is a floor, you cannot call it "ground". Not even "ground floor" does this. All "ground floor" means is that this floor is on the same level as the ground outside.

Maryn
12-08-2014, 09:13 PM
But what about my simple hovel with its dirt floor? Or, in the case of some of the houses I looked at before we got this one, the basement with the dirt floor? Can't I fall to the ground there without it being wrong, period? Oh, wait, that should have been wrong, question mark.

Maryn, who has now confused herself

Fruitbat
12-08-2014, 09:14 PM
Ouch! I just banged my head on the sky.

Maryn
12-08-2014, 09:17 PM
Chicken Little, is that you?

Maryn, who used to think Mr. Hendrix was saying, 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

Xelebes
12-08-2014, 09:31 PM
Maryn, who used to think Mr. Hendrix was saying, 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

Or Harlequin sang an ode to incest.

Once!
12-09-2014, 12:27 PM
Indoors - falls to floor. Or just falls.

It might be technically possible to fall to the ground in a building, but it doesn't sound right.

Roxxsmom
12-09-2014, 01:42 PM
(less common, markedly rural): a universal permitted substitution of "ground" for "floor". I've heard this mostly from people coming from small towns. I think one of my college dorm-mates from the California Central Valley used it, but I could be mistaken. I would expect a careful editor to catch this usage.

Hmm, I'm from the CA central valley, and I usually just say floor, or tiles, or rug or whatever if we're indoors, though I suppose I might use ground if I was trying to avoid use of the word "floor" in rapid succession or something and couldn't find a way to restructure the sentence without contortions. We do refer to the first (street level) floor of a building as the ground floor sometimes. I probably wouldn't think it odd if someone referred to a floor as the ground in some contexts at least, but I've never given it much thought. I'll have to pay more attention and see if people ever actually use this in conversation, but I don't think it's something I'd necessarily notice in a book I'm reading. Maybe it depends on the tone or voice of the narrative too.

I've possibly used it without thinking, though, as it's something I've never even thought about before. Now I have to comb through my manuscript.

I read and write fantasy, and sometimes my characters are in buildings where the floor is the ground, of course. One more thing that I never, ever thought about that might bug people about my writing (assuming I've ever done this and used ground instead of floor when my characters are inside) :(

LJD
12-09-2014, 05:36 PM
I just found an instance of this in my manuscript. Heh.

Fallen
12-09-2014, 06:54 PM
Floor this end too.

Although "She floored him" is used to represent ground when someones hit to the ground outside, well, because "She grounded him" has completely differenly connotations... :D But yep: floor for indoors, ground... out.

Albedo
12-09-2014, 06:58 PM
Gomers go to ground, even when indoors.

guttersquid
12-09-2014, 09:54 PM
And whoever heard of floored pepper?

Chase
12-09-2014, 11:56 PM
And whoever heard of floored pepper?

Irrelevant comments like this make my teeth hurt from being pavement.

KaiReader
12-10-2014, 07:14 AM
I must agree, ground implies an outside environment. Floor would be a sufficient replacement but there are so many ways one could use the flooring material as an indicator of how unpleasant the fall is... "fell to the sticky kitchen tiles", "fell to the unforgiving concrete" or.... "fell to his knees and slid on the short, cheap carpet, adding nasty carpet burn to his list of injuries" :P
(I had some bad cases of carpet burn at school in my childhood, it may have scarred me slightly.)
Though I suppose if a character has just been punctured by a small speedy projectile, they're probably not paying much attention to the quality of the floor coverings.

blacbird
12-10-2014, 11:34 AM
This thread is way too complicated. It's just the wrong word. Period.

caw

WWWalt
12-10-2014, 01:46 PM
If someone is standing on the hood of a car, then jumps down, does he land on the ground even if the surface is paved? Does "ground" refer only to a natural surface?

What if someone is in an underground cave? Can there be a ground under the ground? Or do caves have floors instead?

Rufus Coppertop
12-10-2014, 02:32 PM
This thread is way too complicated. It's just the wrong word. Period.

cawThis. Totally.

Bufty
12-10-2014, 02:57 PM
Agreed.

'Ground' is outside as far as I'm concerned - is and always has been.

To use it to refer to any indoor surface is just plain wrong although I have heard it very occasionally from folk to whom English is not their first language. I don't recall ever reading it used to refer to an indoor surface.

Ken
12-10-2014, 03:53 PM
If someone is standing on the hood of a car, then jumps down, does he land on the ground even if the surface is paved? Does "ground" refer only to a natural surface?

What if someone is in an underground cave? Can there be a ground under the ground? Or do caves have floors instead?

that's a good counter-angle. not to say you have something here. but it is a valid comparison which gets one considering things, afresh. hmm.

e.g. what about at the beach? (sand) / just what does ground encompass?

Bufty
12-10-2014, 04:19 PM
There is a dictionary definition of 'ground' - the solid surface of the earth.

If the 'ground' surface is earth or mud or grass or sand or pavement or sidewalk or lava or tarmac or marsh or swamp or rock or cave floor or whatever and that more descriptive word is preferred, use it, but in context it's usually obvious what the ground is.

Words create images and if the word 'ground' creates an image of ground where there is no ground then it's the wrong word.



that's a good counter-angle. not to say you have something here. but it is a valid comparison which gets one considering things, afresh. hmm.

e.g. what about at the beach? (sand) / just what does ground encompass?

guttersquid
12-10-2014, 10:14 PM
Words create images and if the word 'ground' creates an image of ground where there is no ground then it's the wrong word.

Yes. End of discussion.

Ken
12-11-2014, 04:44 PM
... or do what Lord Byron did in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:

"He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell."

(no need to specify the obvious)

(just happened upon this passage yesterday)

King Neptune
12-11-2014, 05:20 PM
Then there's the matter of getting grounded when one is holding a live electrical wire. I believe you Brits would use "earthed" rather than "grounded". And some people speak of becoming spiritually grounded; that may be like the electricity, or maybe not.

Bufty
12-11-2014, 06:28 PM
No - if you're holding a live electric wire anywhere you are certainly neither grounded nor earthed - over here you are most likely going to be electrocuted if it's a mains wire. Here at least, 'earthed' is used to refer to the 'earthing' of equipment for safety reasons.

There are literally thousands of words where the meaning changes when the context in which they are used is changed.


Ground or grounded is one of those words.



Then there's the matter of getting grounded when one is holding a live electrical wire. I believe you Brits would use "earthed" rather than "grounded". And some people speak of becoming spiritually grounded; that may be like the electricity, or maybe not.

Jack McManus
12-11-2014, 07:56 PM
"This topic has been ground to fine powder," he groaned.

heza
12-11-2014, 08:09 PM
Here at least, 'earthed' is used to refer to the 'earthing' of equipment for safety reasons.


I didn't know that. That's interesting. It makes me envision someone burying a backhoe... as if earthed were the opposite of unearthed.

It also reminds me that on the way to work, we were passed by a truck that said, "Randy Transportation."


I always use floor or the specific flooring for inside and ground or specific outdoor material for outside.

(I think caves have floors.)

Maryn
12-11-2014, 08:36 PM
Caves do have floors, some of them. But rarely are they carpeted.

Maryn, who's been in a cave or two

heza
12-11-2014, 10:18 PM
Caves do have floors, some of them. But rarely are they carpeted.

But Forests floors can be carpeted... or even blanketed (a word that sounds weirder the more I say it, for some reason).

King Neptune
12-11-2014, 10:43 PM
No - if you're holding a live electric wire anywhere you are certainly neither grounded nor earthed - over here you are most likely going to be electrocuted if it's a mains wire. Here at least, 'earthed' is used to refer to the 'earthing' of equipment for safety reasons.

Yes, and in the U.S. one would "ground" the equipment, so that the foolish player with live wires would not receive a major shock. Fortunately, I haven't been present, but I once heard an amazing story of stupidity at a small privately owned hydro station. The guy who owned it was trying to repair something and was holding one of the wires from the street. The n he grabbed the frame of his generator. There was a good circuit breaker, so he didn't get completely burned, but it set off alarms with the electric company, and they sent a crew out to find out the problem. hen they got there the breaker was continuing to break and then reset with the guy holding the lead and the ground. He survived.


There are literally thousands of words where the meaning changes when the context in which they are used is changed.


Ground or grounded is one of those words.Yes, that's what makes language so much fun.

Haggis
12-11-2014, 11:06 PM
See what you started, Chase? :D

Chase
12-12-2014, 05:14 AM
See what you started, Chase?

I'm seeing a lot of wisdom in Bufty's plan to let characters fall and don't mention onto what. :D

Haggis
12-12-2014, 08:12 AM
I'm seeing a lot of wisdom in Bufty's plan to let characters fall and don't mention onto what. :D
'Zactly.

eta: For example, if I'm out there in the middle of the alfalfa, and I'm hit by a stray bullet, I'm probably going to fall down to the ground. But, of course, people seldom fall up. And if I'm in that field of alfalfa, if I fall down, I think peeps can pretty much figure I've landed on the ground rather than, say, a sofa, a bed, or a carpet.

I have no idea of what I just said, but I hope it made sense.

Chase
12-12-2014, 09:40 PM
I hope it made sense.

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." ~Robin Williams

Thankfully, making sense has never been a criteria here at Grammar and Syntax, and your spark is intact. :Clap: :applause:

Fruitbat
12-12-2014, 10:50 PM
And there's just hitting bottom.

Fruitbat, a fallen woman

LynnKHollander
12-15-2014, 01:10 AM
I've seen it, too. In one generic fantasy, someone fell to the ground --of a wagon.

lenore_x
12-15-2014, 05:51 AM
I did a search for this in my MS. I used ground several times for indoor settings. I would never use floor for an outdoor setting, though. And "ground of the wagon" just sounds bizarre.

Very curious now about the dialectal differences. For the record, I'm 29, and from a small town on the west coast.

Bufty
12-15-2014, 03:40 PM
To me, using 'ground' in indoor settings is equally bizarre as using it to refer to the inside of a wagon. I may make an exception if it's used to refer to the inside a tent.


I did a search for this in my MS. I used ground several times for indoor settings. I would never use floor for an outdoor setting, though. And "ground of the wagon" just sounds bizarre.

Very curious now about the dialectal differences. For the record, I'm 29, and from a small town on the west coast.

Ken
12-15-2014, 04:46 PM
"Imagine meeting you here: in a grassy meadow of all places. I am floored, to put it mildly!"

Chase
12-15-2014, 08:34 PM
My hunting tent has a canvas floor with a cut-out where the wood stove stands on the bare ground.

I see lots of unique situations listed in this thread but am relieved I'm not the Lone Ranger http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Others/others-018.gif in thinking the ground didn't move indoors while we weren't looking.

Thanks also to the brave souls who admitted the slip. Grammar and Syntax sometimes serves a purpose. :D

For my part, I can live long and prosper http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Others/others-139.GIF in the knowledge characters can wipe their feet on the welcome mat and leave the ground outside. :yesway::yesway:

DavidMivshek
12-16-2014, 11:55 PM
If anyone else posts after mine they will be grounded for life!

Maryn
12-17-2014, 12:29 AM
Thanks! I don't like going out much.

Maryn, serious

Raison
12-27-2014, 11:57 AM
I did a search for this in my MS. I used ground several times for indoor settings. I would never use floor for an outdoor setting, though. And "ground of the wagon" just sounds bizarre.

Very curious now about the dialectal differences. For the record, I'm 29, and from a small town on the west coast.
My soon-to-be-ex-husband says this all the time (it drives me nuts, but I'm sure I say things that drive others nuts). He's 48, and he grew up in Bronx, NY.

Twick
01-16-2015, 01:43 AM
that's a good counter-angle. not to say you have something here. but it is a valid comparison which gets one considering things, afresh. hmm.

e.g. what about at the beach? (sand) / just what does ground encompass?

I don't know if there are strict rules here, but I'd accept "ground" for a cave floor, since it's natural.

At a beach, I'd accept ground, but it's a wonderful opportunity to use words like "sand" or "shingle".