Staying at home, going home or working from home: using the word ‘home’.

Alexander Spatari/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Spending several weeks under (partial) lockdown has made me think more deeply about the concept of ‘home’. It’s a word that has a huge amount of implied meaning over and above its main literal meaning of ‘the place where you live’. It is also a very common word that can cause problems for learners because it acts in odd ways with regard to the use of prepositions.

For example, we go to work, go to school, but simply go home:

Come on, Joe – it’s time to go home now.

Other verbs of movement have the same rule – we don’t use the preposition to between them and home:

We pleaded with her to come home.

We travelled (UK)/traveled (US) home by train.

When we talk about being in our homes or about things in our homes, we use the preposition at:

I was at home with my family that evening. (Americans sometimes omit ‘at’ in this context after verbs like stay or be.)

He has several more guitars at home.

The word ‘home’ is often used in phrases connected with feeling comfortable and belonging somewhere. For example, if we say to a guest, ‘Make yourself at home’, we mean that they should relax and treat your home as if it were their own. Similarly, if you feel at home in a place, you feel that it is the right place for you to be. This sense is probably best summed up in the phrase Home is where the heart is, meaning that your home is the place you love most, even if you don’t live there at the moment.

When we move away from our parents’ house, we say that we are leaving home. When adults talk about going home, for example for a national holiday, they often mean that they are going to their childhood home, where their parents still live, rather than to their own current homes. Similarly, if we say that an adult still lives at home, we mean that they live in their childhood home with their parents.

We also use the word ‘home’ to talk about a country or area where we live, rather than a building:

We consider France our home now.

Eating out is much more expensive at home.

However, as a countable noun, ‘home’ can be used without any extra connotation, simply to mean a building where someone lives:

The government has promised to build thousands of new homes in the area.

She has homes in several cities.

‘Home’ has several more, less common, uses but these are the most common ones. I hope you find the explanations useful.

23 thoughts on “Staying at home, going home or working from home: using the word ‘home’.

      1. Zech

        I must say I was a little shocked by that sentence, because I identified the first part of a comparison (much more expensive) while no second part (introduced by “than”) was to be found in the rest of the sentence. I didn’t know that it was correct to omit totally the second part of a comparison.
        Kind regards

      2. MUHAMAMD

        Dear Liz,
        i think couple of years ago you have written an article explaining with ”LOOK” and differentiating take a look and have look ; i can not find that article
        can you help me find that article with LOOK.

      3. Sorry Liz, still I have a doubt, adding (than) the sentence is or isn’t correct? (as someone is saying now).
        I did understand, the sentence referred to where he currently lives rather than where he comes from.

    1. Denis

      That sentence in the article is right. On the contrary, your version (with than) doesn’t make sense.
      Meanwhile, if you want to insert than into that sentence, you would have to change the sentence about this way:
      ‘Eating out here is much more expensive than at home.’
      ‘Eating out is much more expensive at home than here/it is here.’

      1. Name *Notynipun

        Sorry I can’t see my phone phone c’not network some time problem thanks I am waiting

    2. Liz Walter

      It’s definitely correct, though you could also say ‘Eating out here is much more expensive than at home.’

  1. Lu

    Great post! Thanks for explaining. I think ‘ be home to sb’ is quite a common collocation (I am not sure if
    it is called in this way ) appear in the news story or articals.

  2. Jason Han

    In Covid-19 Time, ‘Home’ also means somewhere you and your relatives all feel health and normal to be together, staying all the day and day after day, until somewhen you can feel safe to be out after the lockdown of the physics and your hearts….

  3. Reena

    A Turkish friend pointed out to me that us Australians use the word ‘home’ very flexibly. Sometimes it can mean any place we’re staying at the time. For example, a friend’s house or even a hotel. Sometimes saying ‘we’ll go home’ can mean going back to a temporary home. She noted she would never do that in Turkish.

    1. Liz Walter

      That’s interesting. As a Brit, I don’t think I’d use it like that, except in a slightly joky way.

    1. Mohammad Mohsin

      Liz: You said, “Americans sometimes omit ‘at’ in this context after verbs like stay or be.”
      During briefing on Covid-19 pandemic, the British Government portrayed “Stay Home”, instead of Stay at Home. Is it for the sake of brevity?



      1. Mohammad Mohsin

        So, the British also, not just the Americans omit “at” after the term ‘stay’.

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