Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23
  1. #1
    kankan is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    7
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default knock on/at the door?

    Hi!

    I've found these sentences:

    1. We had just startedto eat when we heard someone knocking at the door.
    2. Shortly after he had gone to sleep there was a knock on the door.

    Now I'm confused which one is right: 'a knock on the door' or 'a knock at the door'. Is there any difference in the meaning?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    opa6x57's Avatar
    opa6x57 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    139
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by kankan View Post
    Hi!

    I've found these sentences:

    1. We had just startedto eat when we heard someone knocking at the door.
    2. Shortly after he had gone to sleep there was a knock on the door.

    Now I'm confused which one is right: 'a knock on the door' or 'a knock at the door'. Is there any difference in the meaning?

    Thank you!
    They are functionally the same.
    Either one is correct - it is simply a matter of style.

    =============================
    Not a teacher, 53-year-old American.
    =============================

  3. #3
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,047
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    "a knock on the door"
    "a knock at the door"

    I agree that they function the same as noun phrases, but not as verb phrases.

    In my dialect, I would knock on the door to see if someone was home, but I would never knock at the door. To me, this implies that I am knocking on something other than the door itself.

  4. #4
    killen001 is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
      • Home Country:
      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    9
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    This is how I read it:

    1. We had just started to eat when we heard someone knocking at the door.
    This answers the question: "Where did the knocking take place?" "At the door."

    2. Shortly after he had gone to sleep there was a knock on the door.
    And this is more like "on what object did the (presumed) knocker knock?" "on the door"

  5. #5
    momule is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    If I wish to be allowed in the door then I would knock on the door. To say that you would knock at the door suggests that perhaps you tried to knock on it but missed hitting it with your hand.

    If I am playing the game of baseball and I want to hit the ball with the bat then I would say that I am swinging at the ball because there is a good chance that I will miss the ball when I swing.

    If I am in my car on the street in front of the house I would say that I am looking at the door and not looking on the door.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,067
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by momule View Post
    If I wish to be allowed in the door then I would knock on the door. To say that you would knock at the door suggests that perhaps you tried to knock on it but missed hitting it with your hand.
    There could be a difference between variants here as it doesn't suggest this to me; knock at the door sounds normal enough to me.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) gives 386 examples of 'knock at the door' and 600 of 'knock on the door'. I glanced over several examples of each, and could see no consistent difference.

  8. #8
    opa6x57's Avatar
    opa6x57 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    139
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    I'm standing AT the door, knocking. I'm knocking at the door.

    I may be knocking ON the door. I may be knocking on the door-frame. I may be knocking on the siding of the house next to the door. I may be knocking on the window next too the door. I may be knocking on the post supporting the porch roof. But, I am at the door - knocking.

    To those inside - all they know is that someone is knocking. They may assume the knocker is knocking ON the door. But, for certain, there is someone AT the door, knocking.

    In common AmE usage - these are functionally the same thing. I agree there is a nuance here that most native-speakers do not pay attention to, though.

    Jesus said, "Behold, I stand AT the door and knock."
    Some new translations may have this as, "I'm knocking ON the door of your heart."

    Sir Paul McCartney said, "Someone's knocking AT the door."
    Would the song have sold as many copies, if the lyric was, "Someone's knocking ON the door."?


    =============================
    Not a teacher, 53-year-old American.
    =============================

    and that's my opinion.

  9. #9
    momule is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    Just for the sake of fun, do we ring a bell or do we strike it in some fashion in order to make it ring? We certainly don't ring many doorbells since they're typically electric and located out of reach inside the house, but we do push the doorbell button in order to make that mechanism ring.
    I would agree that from McCartney's perspective "Knocking at the door" and Ringing the bell" have a much better flow than any other option that I could consider. Your opinion is well taken and I will accept that on some level these are mere nuances with the same functionality.

  10. #10
    Vladimir_al is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Albanian
      • Home Country:
      • Albania
      • Current Location:
      • Albania
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    4
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: knock on/at the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by kankan View Post
    Hi!

    I've found these sentences:

    1. We had just startedto eat when we heard someone knocking at the door.
    2. Shortly after he had gone to sleep there was a knock on the door.

    Now I'm confused which one is right: 'a knock on the door' or 'a knock at the door'. Is there any difference in the meaning?

    Thank you!
    Both they are correct .

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. knock knock jokes
    By frindle in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 21-Sep-2010, 00:48
  2. [Idiom] Knock yourself out
    By dianeplant in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-Dec-2009, 01:03
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Aug-2009, 10:42
  4. knock-knock jokes
    By Lenka in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 13-Aug-2009, 11:02
  5. "knock knock... banana.... banana who" joke
    By rou in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 29-May-2006, 16:16

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •