Consider these expressions:

Don't place the suitcase vertically, it will mess up all of the clothes inside. Keep it horizontally on the floor.

I keep the books vertically in my shelf unlike this arrangement.

The words horizontally and vertically sound very technical to me. I use them in physics or maths but I rarely see them in movies or books.

Is this the natural way of describing these arrangements?

  • 1
    They're not very technical, and sometimes are the best to use. Most people will understand what they mean, since horizon is sort of related.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 21:53
  • Side note, one of your examples sounds odd: If I used "horizontal", I'd say either Keep it horizontal on the floor. or Lay it horizontally on the floor. - the "-ly" implies some sort of action being taken.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


I would perhaps say:

Don't keep the suitcase upright, lay it flat on the floor.

Stand the books up, don't lay them flat.


That depends on the context.

If you're talking about placing an elongated object, than I agree with FakeDIY that we would say "lay it flat" or "stand it upright".

If you're talking about a direction of movement, we normally say "left and right" or "up and down", as in, "Turn this knob to move the light up and down. Push this lever to move it left and right."

There are probably other words in different contexts.

  • I agree. My answer only really applies to this specific context.
    – FakeDIY
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 11:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .