What about the verbs I used in this case and the tenses I chose?
- My mother would have been quite happy if I had taken care of the garden and watered her flowers, but while climbing down the steps of my house I tripped over and fell down to earth.
1) Are all the tenses correct?
2) Is "climbing down" the correct expression or I'd better use "going down"? What's the difference between them if there is one?
3) Could I substitute "tripped over" with "toppled over" or would this change the meaning?
4) "to fall down to earth" or "to fall down on the ground"? Any differences?
You usually go down stairs. I climb down the stairs to my attic (loft) but they are more like a ladder than stairs, and I face them while I climb down. If you are walking down a normal flight of stairs, just "go down" them.
When you said "you tripped over," I expected to see what caused you to trip. I tripped over my shoe on the top step. I tripped over the cat. I tripped over my son's toy car. You need an object. On the other hand, topple over doesn't really work either. It implies a complete collapse from the top down. A tower made of blocks topples over. I person who was standing but who passed out (fainted) topples over. For this part, just say "I tripped."
A meteorite falls to the earth. Something falling from the sky falls to the earth. Otherwise, don't use this. Were you outside? I'm guessing you were, or you would not have chosen "earth." Just say "ground."
I expected you to recount what injury you received as a result. I tripped on a step, near the ground, thank goodness, but sitll managed to fall pretty hard on the ground and I'm sore all over now. I tripped near the top step and (here you could use toppled) fell all the way to the ground. I dislocated my shoulder and ended up with a concussion!
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
Thanks so much for your explanation! You've been really clear.
Just one question because I'd like to understand it correctly.
Is it correct to say that:
- someone climbs down (if he is on a ladder, for example) AND
- someone goes down (if he is, maybe, going down "normal" flights of stairs)
So, "climb down" is used for ladders and "go down" or "walk down" for stairs in general...?
What else can we use "climb down" with?
You climb/come/go up/down a ladder. You can climb (up)/down a steep slope/hill/mountain. You climb/get down from something on which you may have been standing/sitting - for example, a garage roof. You normally/go/come/walk up/down stairs.
We do use "climb" for "go up" the stairs but not usually for "go down".
In my childhood, my father frequently said "Come on, it's time to climb the wooden hill to bed", the "wooden hill" being the stairs.
In literature, you'll see "he/she/they climbed the stairs". It always means "went up" in that context.
My mother used to say "Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, and down Sheet Lane".
I wonder what the next addition will be.