Help me reword "ascend a [horizontal] walkway" so it is correct.
April 20, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Can you "ascend" a horizontal "walkway"? No? Then how does one describe this action in a single word?

I am revising a story for a friend. My friend writes that a character "ascends a walkway." He means that the character starts at the sidewalk and walks across a flat plane to the front door of a house. I think the wording is incorrect because, "ascend" is a vertical movement, while the "walkway" in question is a horizontal plane.

1) Am I right?
2) Much more importantly, what is a single English word that describes this action??

This seems ridiculously simple to me, yet despite racking my brain/beating up Google, I cannot find an answer. This may be due to over-excitement on my friend's behalf because the rest of the piece is holymolynearlyperfectrightthereonthecusp but okay HALP.
posted by phonebia to Writing & Language (26 answers total)
Best answer: traverse.
posted by devbrain at 2:57 PM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: traverse
posted by WyoWhy at 2:57 PM on April 20, 2011

traverse, cross
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:58 PM on April 20, 2011

posted by [citation needed] at 2:58 PM on April 20, 2011

Agreed, I would say traverse if it's long ace cross if short, both are correct
posted by boobjob at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: You're right, he can't ascend the sidewalk to the house, unless he's using the word carefully and is meaning to evoke an unusual image.

He can traverse it.
He can (go, walk, come, approach, pass) (down, up, across, via, along) it.
He can use it.
He can cross it.
posted by lostburner at 3:03 PM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: Just write "walked up to the door." It's not hard for your reader to automatically picture how the character got from, say, the car to the front door, so unless there's a compelling reason to give more detail, keep it simple. "Crossed the walkway" doesn't make the direction clear. "Traversed the walkway" is needlessly complicated and pretentious.
posted by yarly at 3:05 PM on April 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

But if the walkway is even slightly sloped, it could be 'ascend'.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 3:10 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Traverse" was what first came to mind also, but "follow" works as well.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:11 PM on April 20, 2011

Is there a reason you need to change only that word, and you need to change it to exactly one word?

Why note just write, "He walked up the sidewalk to the front door of the house"? Or, as yarly says, you could just say, "He walked to the front door."

"Traverse" sounds overtly technical and dramatic. "Cross" to me suggests something other than a person normally walking down a sidewalk. If you say someone "crossed" a sidewalk, I imagine them walking perpendicular to the sidewalk, crossing it at just one point.
posted by John Cohen at 3:14 PM on April 20, 2011

"followed the walkway to the door"
posted by blue_beetle at 3:21 PM on April 20, 2011

Response by poster: @John Cohen: The sentence is key in its meaning, its syntax and its placement within the story, so I want to preserve as much of it as possible as he's written it.

I think I'm going to present him with a few options: "traversing", "coming up the walkway" and "coming up to the door."

Thanks, everyone!!
posted by phonebia at 3:25 PM on April 20, 2011

traverse. but also maybe some version of "approach the door across the walkway"?
posted by misterbrandt at 3:34 PM on April 20, 2011

posted by trip and a half at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2011

I'll nth 'traverse' being 'ascend, but across', but you could also 'negotiate' it.
posted by pompomtom at 4:08 PM on April 20, 2011

Most properties have at least a slight downslope from the front wall to the street. This is to aid the draining of water and moisture that would otherwise collect at the foundation and potentially damage it.

So I guess technically one could say someone is ascending the walkway.

The things one learns from watching Holmes Inspection and Holmes On Homes...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:37 PM on April 20, 2011

He could ascend the walkway if in doing so, he was somehow figuratively moving up. "As young Julian fought back his tears, he ascended the walkway toward the front door, and manhood."

He would not cross the walkway. Crossing is perpendicular. He might cross the yard along the walkway, however.

Traverse and negotiate both imply a journey or at least some difficulty. The dictionary says traverse also means to cross.

This is what you want to choose from. (The first group.)
posted by gjc at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2011

Why not just say "He crossed the walkway in one step." or "He covered the span of the walkway in one step." I know it doesn't meet your "one word" criteria, but just saying traverse doesn't tell you it was in one step.
posted by unannihilated at 5:08 PM on April 20, 2011

He negotiates a walkway; finds himself at a door. Door is opened, face is slapped. He again negotiates the walkway; finds himself in his car.
posted by found missing at 5:26 PM on April 20, 2011

The problem with ascend is, what, it's directionally up? But you're okay with a colloquial "up the walkway"? I think it's perfectly fine how he had it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:59 PM on April 20, 2011

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:02 PM on April 20, 2011

From the POV of someone on the stoop, ascend is kind of nifty here.
posted by notyou at 6:23 PM on April 20, 2011

If your friend really likes the word "ascend," why not put the house on a hill, such that the walkway slopes upward, or consists of steps?
posted by ErikaB at 9:27 PM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: Approaching the door?
posted by corvine at 2:04 AM on April 21, 2011

"walkway" is itself a very awkward word.
posted by yesster at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding "took."
posted by Sys Rq at 1:25 PM on April 21, 2011

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