A ladder which leads down - an access ladder or a descending ladder?

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JACEK1

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Hello again!

I would like to ask you what you call a ladder which leads/goes down. You can climb down such a ladder to reach a tank, for example.

Is it enough to say "an access ladder" or "a descending ladder" or something else?

Thank you.
 

emsr2d2

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I would just call it an "access ladder". You can't refer to a ladder as "ascending" or "descending". A ladder goes in both directions. It just depends on whether you start at the top or the bottom!
 

BobK

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:up: But people do just tack on down or up. Of course, any ladder goes two ways, but the way that leads away form the speaker's present position has more weight: 'there was a ladder up to the hayloft'; 'there was a ladder down to the cellar'. In careful speech one would probably say something like 'leading up/down to...', or just 'giving access to...' (with no direction specified).

b
 

emsr2d2

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Yes, agreed, but we wouldn't actually refer to the ladder which leads up ​to the hayloft as an "ascending ladder".
 

BobK

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:up: Indeed not - 'ascending' and 'descending' are just not on. But appending up or down* - usually after, but occasionally before the noun (as in Up the Down Staircase - is a useful trick.

b

* Other prepositions can sometimes be used in a similar way. A motorway exit can sometimes be an 'off ramp' (or am I getting that from US TV dramas?)
 
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