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A ladder is a piece of equipment that is used for climbing up something

When I saw this sentence, I thought it is not correct. As there must be added a person in the sentence, or it would be seen as something climbing up something.

(The most weird part is, if something climb up something, it should indicate something in the sentence. Am I right?)

And I thought it could be proper if I fixed it like this:

A ladder is a piece of equipment that is for people reaching higher places.

(I took the word used away, is that ok?)

or

...is a piece of equipment that is used for people climbing up and down.

However, I saw this explanation (as the title) in Collins Dictionary:

A ladder is a piece of equipment that is used for climbing up something

now I'm confused.

Maybe what I thought is not right, or something unclear...

Could someone help me out?

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    Because your profile says you're a "beginner of learning English," then I thought I'd at least mention English Language Learners, a place where you might want to ask some more questions in the future. – J.R. Oct 2 '15 at 21:43
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    You are so kind. Next time I will ask questions there. :) – sukihibiki Oct 2 '15 at 21:44
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with A ladder is a piece of equipment that is used for climbing up something as a sentence. (I would quibble with it as a definition, because it is too general, but that is another question).

You are right that it does not specify that it is for people: for some purposes one might want to specify that, but it is not necessary grammatically or semantically. In fact, animals and birds sometimes have ladders in their enclosures or caves, which are not for people.

  • Yes, it is a definition from the dictionary. Another question is , if I took used away, it that okay? – sukihibiki Oct 2 '15 at 21:43
  • I accept that it is from the dictionary. I argue that it is only a partial definition, because it does not tell you how to distinguish ladders from other kinds of equipment used for climbing up something, such as climbing rope. And yes, you could omit used, with almost no change to the meaning. – Colin Fine Oct 2 '15 at 21:49
  • @sukihibiki You'll find you can almost always omit the verb "to use" in these kinds of sentences. The preposition of purpose, for, does not need the assistance. The preposition and gerund (here climbing) imply an agent, i.e., a climber. Which need not be human. Google "fish ladder." You'll find pictures of a stepped surface that allows fish to climb their way (up) past dams on the way to spawning grounds. Note that some ladders are used to climb down things, like away from fires. Making dictionaries is no easy task. – deadrat Oct 2 '15 at 22:11
  • Technically, you're actually climbing the ladder, so it is the 'something'. But yeah, it's awkward coming up with something technically correct that doesn't sound like insurance particulars :) – Lamar Latrell Oct 2 '15 at 23:14
  • @sukihibiki - As Colin Fine says, the definition is quite unspecific. For instance, a jumar or ascender is a piece of equipment for climbing a rope, climbing spikes are equipment for climbing trees, crampons and ice picks are pieces of equipment for climbing ice, and pitons are pieces of equipment for climbing stone cliffs. All of them fit the definition of ladder, but none of them are remotely like a ladder. – WhatRoughBeast Oct 3 '15 at 18:04
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Personally I would prefer 'a ladder is a piece of equipment that is used for climbing something.' Leave out the 'up'. Or you could leave out 'something', or you could have 'climbing upwards'. Although a ladder is also used to climb down.

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