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  1. The Qinghai Tibet Railway, the highest in the world, begins operation on Saturday. The first train will leave Golmud, the second largest city of Qinghai Province in Northwest China, for Lhasa, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, in the morning.
  2. The train leaves Golmud at about 2,800 meters above sea level, winds through the towering Tanggula Mountain Pass at 5, 072 metres, and finally arrives in Lhasa at 3,650 metres .

These two paraphgrahs are excerpted from a Chinese-English translation of a news report. The second paragraph was supposed to convey two messages. First, the train leaves Golmud, winds through Tanggula Mountain Pass, and finally arrives in Lhasa.Second, Golmud is situated at an elevation of 2,800 meters, Tanggula Mountain Pass of 5072 meters, and Lhasa of 3650 meters.

I'm having trouble deciding what roles the enboldened parts play in the sentences. Do they modify of the verbs (leaves, winds through, arrives) or the nouns(Golmud, Mountain Pass, Lhasa)? Also, does the second parapraph convey the intended meanings? If not, how can I rewrite it?

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    Metre is British spelling and meter is American spelling, so you may want to decide, which one to use. – Jan May 10 at 16:21
  • I agree with Jan's comment. Pick either meters or metres, but don't use both. – Andrew May 10 at 16:27
  • The International System of Units is the most widely used system of measurements, which uses the word metre. In BrE a meter is a device used for measurment such as an electricity meter. – Weather Vane May 10 at 16:32
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The second paragraph does convey all the meaning you describe, and i don't see any grammatical problem or usage issue in it. The bold phrases could be considered to modify either the nouns (place names) or the verbs (leaves / winds / arrives). That would be determiend by context, but in this case the meaning is exactly the same in either case. Golmud is at 2,800 meters, and so was the train when it left. But consider if "at" was followed by a time:

The train left Golmud at 10:23 am."

or a speed

The train left Golmud at 50 kilometers per hour.

Then clearly the phrase would be modifying the verb left.

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The emboldened parts modify the nouns - the places - which will be at the heights stated whether or not the train departs / arrives.

The second sentence does convey the meaning, but can alternatively be phrased like this:

The train leaves Golmud (altitude 2,800 m), winds through the towering Tanggula Mountain Pass (5,072 m) and finally arrives in Lhasa (3,650 m).

I did not repeat the word altitude because it is already clear what the numbers mean.

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Both paragraphs are fine, although they could be slightly improved by the edits suggested in the other answers.

I would add only one minor edit to the first paragraph, to move "in the morning" closer to the verb it modifies:

The first train will leave in the morning from Golmud, the second largest city of Qinghai Province in Northwest China, for Lhasa, in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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