Could you choose the most natural sentence, please?

  1. As a kitten, she fell from an attic of a nine-storey bulding into a ventilation shaft.
  2. As a kitten, she fell from the attic of a nine-storey bulding into a ventilation shaft.
  • 2
    From the attic, certainly. If you say an attic, it sounds like the nine-story building has more than one attic. – Peter Shor May 23 '12 at 13:06
  • One question per question, please. And a more descriptive title would be nice. And proper tags and formatting. You've been a member for three months, you know how it works. Thanks. – RegDwigнt May 23 '12 at 13:12
  • I thought maybe it should have been 'an attic' because it's first mention. What do you think about it? – Monica May 23 '12 at 14:39
  • 1
    ... and still zero percent. – Em1 May 23 '12 at 14:44
  • How is it in your language? I've no idea where you come from, but all languages that I know (at least a little) I can say that they handle it the same way. – Em1 May 23 '12 at 14:45

Attic: space within the roof of a house

My house has two small rooms in the attic.

So, clearly only one attic is possible in a house. Same is with a building (with apartments), as there is only one roof. Thus, the more natural sounding (and correct) alternative is:

2.As a kitten, she fell from the attic of a nine-storey bulding into a ventilation shaft.

  • I once lived in a house with two attics (they had separate entrances, and weren't connected). We still called the main one "the attic". – Peter Shor May 23 '12 at 13:19
  • @PeterShor I have made an edit to my answer. I hope that clears your doubt. – user20934 May 23 '12 at 13:22

It is possible to have more than one attic in a building if a wall extends through the roof-space to the roof — it's often called a firewall and its purpose is to stop fire spreading through the entire roof-space.

So an attic is entirely correct, if slightly unusual because most buildings aren't large enough to require firewalls to create separate attics. Perhaps a nine-storey building would be large enough.

As for the "most natural" sentence, it probably is the attic, simply because most buildings have only one.

  • I beg to differ with you. As the meaning of the word attic says, its the space within the roof of a house, so it doesn't matter how many partitions you make in the attic. It will still remain one attic. – user20934 May 23 '12 at 13:42
  • @rudra: The meaning of attic: A space or room at the top of a house under the roof (not necessarily the space). Trust someone who has had to deal with attics and firewalls. – Andrew Leach May 23 '12 at 13:45
  • @rudra I live in a counterexample. My house has two attics which are not separated by a partition. Have you never seen a house where the roof has multiple gables? – Mark Beadles May 23 '12 at 13:50
  • @AndrewLeach I still disagree with you. The meaning I have written is from an Oxford dictionary. So, i don't think it would be wrong at all. – user20934 May 23 '12 at 13:51
  • 1
    Hmm, I'm tempted to say that if you had two unconnected spaces, you could call it "two attics". But if you had a building with two unconnected areas about the second floor, would you say that you have "two third floors"? – Jay May 23 '12 at 14:50

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