4

We are about to go out.

My wife went to the washroom.

My son shouted his mother at downstairs. So I told him:

She can't hear you. Go to the stairs ask your mother come down.

Would it clarify the place of the location if just simply use "stairs"?

  • 1
    What location; the stairs? What's the intended meaning of your sentence? – userr2684291 Sep 12 '17 at 13:20
  • 10
    Side note: You need a conjunction or some connector follow "go to the stairs". Or break it into two sentences. Also, it should be "to come down". Like "Go to the stairs AND ask your mother TO come down." – Jay Sep 12 '17 at 13:33
  • Are you asking whether the original phrasing, "go to the stairs", is sufficient, versus adding something else (like "go to the bottom of the stairs")? Or are you asking something else? It's not quite clear what you're expecting the answers to provide. – Kyle Strand Sep 12 '17 at 16:02
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    Another side note: "shouted his mother at downstairs" should probably be "shouted at his mother downstairs" (assuming that the mother is downstairs and the son is upstairs). – Kyle Strand Sep 12 '17 at 16:04
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    @KyleStrand - Given the "ask your mother to come down" part, I'd assume it's the other way around -- the mother is upstairs and the son is downstairs. With that assumption, it'd be "he shouted at his mother from downstairs." – Shauna Sep 12 '17 at 17:35
5

Stairs have a top and a bottom, so you can always say which you want:

Go up (to the top of) the stairs and ask your mother to come down.

Go to the bottom of the stairs and ask your mother to come down.

You don't have to specify, but then you leave the listener to guess from context. An alternate solution is to modify the direction of the action, which implies the location of the speaker:

My son shouted up the stairs, "Mom, Dad wants to you to come down!" (your son is at the bottom of the stairs)

My wife shouted down the stairs, "I'll be there in a minute!" (your wife is at the top of the stairs)

This only works with certain verbs, though. "Shout", "yell", "call" and other loud vocalizations all work. For some reason "whisper up/down" is also idiomatic, but not "speak", "ask" and other normal vocalizations.

  • 4
    I don't think it's necessary to specify "go up the stairs" or "to the bottom" if you just mean "go to the nearest point of the stairs". The original phrasing sounds perfectly natural to me. – stangdon Sep 12 '17 at 15:02
  • @stangdon I was trying to address OP's question. He seems to be asking whether just saying "stairs" defines to what part of the stairs he wants his son to go. I agree you can just say "stairs" even though it's ambiguous, because most of the time it's obvious to the listener. – Andrew Sep 12 '17 at 15:24
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If you want him to speak at the bottom of the staircase, you can say

Go to the stairs and ask your mother to come down.

If you want him to speak at the top of the staircase, you can say

Go up the stairs and ask your mother to come down.

  • 1
    What if they wanted their son to climb an unspecified number of stairs (i.e., get on/climb the staircase a bit) and then to call his mother? Call your mother from the staircase? – userr2684291 Sep 12 '17 at 14:02
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    It's worth noting that "go to the stairs" is not intrinsically the bottom. For example, if mother was in the basement or on a lower level, "Go to the stairs and ask your mother to come up" would imply that the son was at the top of the stairs when he shouted. "Go to the stairs" just means being at the stairs, without any up/down/middle connotation. Normally it will be assumed to be the nearest point, i.e. the bottom for stairs going up and the top for stairs going down. – R.M. Sep 12 '17 at 15:37
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    @R.M.: Indeed. In a multi storey building, any point that accesses the stairwell could be the intended destination for go to the stairs. But in the contrived context of being on the middle level, and not knowing if the boy's mother is above you or below you, I guess you'd have to say ...and ask your mother to come here! Sounds a bit "peremptory" though. – FumbleFingers Sep 12 '17 at 17:53
  • @R.M. I would say – if it's not explicitly stated – that the default interpretation of "where on the stairs" would be the level the son is (currently) on. – TripeHound Sep 13 '17 at 10:38
10

You can also say:

Don't shout. Go upstairs and ask her.

We can go upstairs and go downstairs.

Upstairs and downstairs refer to locations. Go upstairs = go to the floor above. Go downstairs = go to the floor below.

Where is mom?
-- She is upstairs.

That is, she is on the floor above.

We don't say "at downstairs|upstairs".

  • This is presumably because the words "upstairs" and "downstairs" were originally contractions of "up stairs" and "down stairs", and have maintained the grammatical context, even if the usage of both has diverged. – wizzwizz4 Sep 12 '17 at 20:56
  • Not sure what you're referring to with "this", @wizzwizz4. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 12 '17 at 21:27
  • This is the last sentence. – wizzwizz4 Sep 13 '17 at 6:24

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