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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    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. opa6x57's Avatar
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    #2

    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.
    =============================

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    #3

    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.

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    #4

    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"

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    #5

    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. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    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.

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    #7

    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 .

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    #8

    Re: knock on/at the door?

    I'm not a native speaker but in my opinion, "knock AT the door" implies the location of the person doing the knocking. In this case, it is somewhere close to the door or "at the door".

    Therefore, I tend to think "he knocks at the door" as equivalent to "he stands in front of the door and he knocks"

    As for "knock on the door", to me, it has a literal meaning of knocking the hand against the door. This phrase only describes the action of knocking. In common sense, it should therefore imply the location of the person albeit indirectly.
    Last edited by RobertT; 18-Jan-2011 at 06:39.

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    #9

    not a teacher

    You can't knock on a door from a distance.

  10. opa6x57's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: knock on/at the door?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertT View Post
    I'm not a native speaker but in my opinion, "knock AT the door" implies the location of the person doing the knocking. In this case, it is somewhere close to the door or "at the door".

    Therefore, I tend to think "he knocks at the door" as equivalent to "he stands in front of the door and he knocks"

    As for "knock on the door", to me, it has a literal meaning of knocking the hand against the door. This phrase only describes the action of knocking. In common sense, it should therefore imply the location of the person albeit indirectly.
    Exactly.

    Unless he is extend-a-man with extremely long arms, to be able to knock on the door, he must be at the door, knocking.

    I am an American English native speaker - 53 years old (not a teacher) and the reality is that these two phrases are functionally the same.

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