I just came across a phrase "back out front of" and couldn't understand what it meant:

Back out front of the Seminar Hall and to the left.

A person asked "where's the bathroom?" So the other person was giving directions. Are these two separate phrases "back out" and "front of", like exit through the front door of the Seminar Hall and then turn left.

And what about:

The original neon sign is back out front of The Chef”

It was in a post. "The Chef" is a restaurant.

Are there phrases where it is used?


Directions will very frequently depend on gestures or on your hearer's knowledge of local geography, but it's easy enough to imagine circumstances in which the first sentence would be intelligible. For instance, if you're standing in a corridor leading to the back of the building you direct your hearer down that corridor to its end out front of the Seminar Hall—that is, outside the hall facing its entrance— the bathroom is now on your hearer's left, either on the same corridor or down another corridor leading to the left:

        SH               or                    SH
  ____/back\___                    __________/    \________
 |  out front   |                              back 
/     of SH     |                        out front of SH    
 ←BR            |               ___BR↓__                ______
 |              |                   \   |              |
 |              |                       |              |
 |              |                       |              |
 |              |                       |              |

ADDED: ColleenV points out that another possibility is “Go back the way you came from, until you get to the front of the seminar hall, then turn left”.

Your second sentence is a bit different. The word original suggests that what is meant is that the neon sign, which had been removed or replaced, is now back (restored) in its original position out front of the bar—that is, outside the bar on its front wall.

  • 1
    It could also mean, “go back the way you came from, until you get to the front of the seminar hall, then turn left”
    – ColleenV
    Sep 27 '19 at 17:42
  • @ColleenV A very good point. I'm'a steal it. Sep 27 '19 at 17:49
  • You can’t steal it! I already gave it to you. :)
    – ColleenV
    Sep 27 '19 at 17:49
  • @ColleenV Then I thank you -- as does, I trust, OP. Sep 27 '19 at 17:52
  • 1
    @It'saboutEnglish "...shouldn't there be a comma...?" No. Whatever its mode of presentation, this is colloquial English, not written English, and in reliance on context it will tolerate an amazing degree of apparent ambiguity, without even intonation to disambiguate. "Look down underbeneath of the stairs on the right" is perfectly intelligible if you know the house. Sep 28 '19 at 0:09

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