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  1. #1
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    'home' versus 'at home'

    Hello there,
    I had a question about the specific use of 'home' and 'at home'.
    This is what I've discovered over the years:

    - When your homestead is your destination or the starting point
    of a "journey", you use 'home', as in
    "Jack's coming home from military school today"
    or as in
    "Jill's daughter left home at the age of 19"
    - When talking about your home as a specific location you use 'at home',
    as in:
    "Oh, I forgot my school-bag at home!"
    or as in
    "My parents aren't at home all day today, they're both at work"
    - Then there still are some of the expressions with 'home' and 'at home'
    "Home is where the heart is"
    "Make yourself at home"
    "I don't really feel at home here"
    etc...

    But especially with the second rule, I still have a bit of trouble. Can you also say: "They weren't home" rather than "They weren't at home"? Because I could swear I've heard that many a time. And if so, why is that and in what sorts of situations can I use it?

    If there are some more ground rules for the use of 'home' and 'at home', I would very much like to know them.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    sarat_106 is offline Key Member
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      • English Teacher
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      • Oriya
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      • India
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      • India
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    Exclamation Re: 'home' versus 'at home'

    Quote Originally Posted by Filip View Post
    Hello there,
    I had a question about the specific use of 'home' and 'at home'.
    This is what I've discovered over the years:

    - When your homestead is your destination or the starting point
    of a "journey", you use 'home', as in
    "Jack's coming home from military school today"
    or as in
    "Jill's daughter left home at the age of 19"
    - When talking about your home as a specific location you use 'at home',
    as in:
    "Oh, I forgot my school-bag at home!"
    or as in
    "My parents aren't at home all day today, they're both at work"
    - Then there still are some of the expressions with 'home' and 'at home'
    "Home is where the heart is"
    "Make yourself at home"
    "I don't really feel at home here"
    etc...

    But especially with the second rule, I still have a bit of trouble. Can you also say: "They weren't home" rather than "They weren't at home"? Because I could swear I've heard that many a time. And if so, why is that and in what sorts of situations can I use it?

    If there are some more ground rules for the use of 'home' and 'at home', I would very much like to know them.

    Thanks in advance

    "At" is a preposition used before the noun and after the verb requiring direction. But we do not need a preposition with home when it is used with any verb referring to direction, as below:
    • I shall be arriving / going / coming / leaving home late this evening.
    Note that most verbs expressing direction require the preposition to before the noun, but not home. Compare the following:
    • I made my way to the mosque before sunrise.
    • I ran all the way to the theatre so that I wouldn't be late.
    • Once you arrive home, you are then at home. (With the second "home" no more direction is suggested, so at is then the appropriate preposition to use with home:)
    Some more examples requiring no direction, so preposition 'at' is used before 'Home'
    Will you be at home tonight or are you going out? ~ No, I'll be at home.

  3. #3
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Re: 'home' versus 'at home'

    Thanks sarat_106,
    I just have one more question:
    is the movie title "Home Alone" a grammatical mistake, then?
    Or is the omission of the preposition 'at' here more common in
    colloquial (American) English?

  4. #4
    sarat_106 is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
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      • Oriya
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India
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    Exclamation Re: 'home' versus 'at home'

    Quote Originally Posted by Filip View Post
    Thanks sarat_106,
    I just have one more question:
    is the movie title "Home Alone" a grammatical mistake, then? Yes, the correct expression should be: Alone at Home
    Or is the omission of the preposition 'at' here more common in
    colloquial (American) English?
    Yes, it is permissible

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