If I want the sentence below to mean "There were doors all around the room", is the verb "span" right to convey this information? It has multiple meanings, and I'm a little confused if it would work in this case.

Doors span all around the room.

I feel the impression that the doors might be "coming out of nowhere" when using to span.

  • I would try omitting "on", and specifying which sides of the corridor that you mean. The walls, or the ends? Jul 26, 2017 at 22:51
  • Your question is unclear. Do you mean that, at the end of the corridor, there are doors which go across hte corridor, from one side to the other? Or do you mean that there are doors on the left and right sides of the corridor, facing each other? I recommend adding a picture of such a corridor as the most efficient way to clarify your question. (In any case, the verb span never takes the preposition "on".) Jul 26, 2017 at 23:43
  • @P.E.Dant I edited the question. Actually, it doesn't really matter if it's a corridor.
    – Renan
    Jul 26, 2017 at 23:50
  • 1
    "Span" means "extend across": "The bridge spans the river" ... or ... "His reign spanned forty years". So, no: it won't work in this sentence. (And span doesn't take a preposition: not on, nor around, nor any other.) Jul 26, 2017 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


Span means something goes from point A to point B, so I think saying "span" and "all around" is a bit confusing. As P.E. Dant points out, "span" doesn't typically take a preposition (except maybe across, which would probably be redundant most of the time).

You could try:

Doors span the entire room.

Or something like:

Doors span the length of every wall.

Still, I think this is opening you up to a potential ambiguity: Do we have a bunch of doors in a row, or are the doors just super wide? Also, even if we don't have super wide doors, do they doors really span the entire wall/room, or are there just more doors than normal? If you say the doors "span the length of the wall," you're really saying that it's just door after door after door with no spaces in between, and I don't know what kind of crazy room that'd be true for.

If you really want to say "there were doors all around the room," I'd just say that. Or "the room had a lot of doors" or "there were multiple doors on every wall of the room" or whatever more specific thing you can think of that is accurate for the circumstance.

  • "Maybe", "probably", and "most of the time", all in the same parenthetical? :) That is a masterpiece of equivocation! Span doesn't take a preposition because it implies a preposition such as "over" or "across". The noun can take a preposition ("The bridge is a span across the Hudson") but not the verb. Jul 27, 2017 at 0:14
  • If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that as soon as you try to give a hard and fast rule, someone comes up with a sentence that contradicts you! Good point about the implied preposition, though. If nobody comes along with a good example to the contrary, I'll edit to be a bit stronger.
    – cjl750
    Jul 27, 2017 at 0:43
  • Be authoritative until quashed by a more authoritative statement, I say. Jul 27, 2017 at 0:44

"Span" is fairly strictly a transitive verb (it doesn't need any prepositional phrase between its subject and its object). It's also about two dimensions: namely the length of the gap from one side of a ravine or similar to the other.

So I'd say "all around" is both unnecessary and confusing.

I'm not at all sure doors can span anything, even metaphorically (at least while they're still hanging on their hinges) ... though I AM fairly sure that someone can come up with a plausible sentence to contradict me.


The Cambridge Dictionary offers this meaning of span:

If a bridge spans a river, it goes from one side to the other:

The verb span means to go directly from one point to another: if a bridge is made up of multiple segments, each going from one pillar to the next, each segment is called a span, and the bridge as a whole is called a multi-span bridge.

A door that is installed correctly can only ever span a doorway- going from one doorpost to the other doorpost. If the doorposts are close to the edges of one side of a room, you could say that the door spans that side of the room, but if you have multiple doors on one side, then each door only spans one doorway.

If you want to describe a room where every wall has multiple doors, you could use the word line, which means

to form a row along the side of something

Note that this relates to only one side, so you would have to say

Doors line every side of the room.

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