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What would be correct between these two lines (please explain) :

I came right back at her door.

Or

I came right back to her door.

  • 1
    It depends on if you're talking about arriving at a location, or rather describing an action. If you're trying to physically attack/break down her door, then "at" would be correct (e.g. "he came at me with a knife" implies an attack), though "I came at <something/someone else>" is awkward and also risks a double entendre. Usually you use "came at" when you are not the subject. – TylerH Jan 8 at 15:02
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica If you take a tiny moment to think it through then you are doing the OP an immense disservice. Risking misleading querants (what a lovely euphonic word) is a fairly major "be nice" fail. || Deletion, in lieu of initial decency, suggested. – Russell McMahon Jan 9 at 7:34
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I think the correct phrase is:

I came right back to her door.

In my interpretation, assuming the speaker intends to imply they are walking towards the door from another location, "I came back at her door" is incorrect.

"I came right back" describes what action was taken.

"at" or "to" defines the location at which the action took place.

"her door." descibes the destination.

I would say "at" implies the speaker was already at the door when they "came back" whereas "to" implies the target of the action of "coming back" as the speaker describes.

Consider the following:

I walked right back at her door.

I would say this implies the speaker is already at the door and then walked, whereas:

I walked right back to her door.

I would say this implies the speaker is walking towards the door and did not necessarily begin there.

In conversational English (which is pretty lenient to errors like this and will provide better context) I think both could be used to say more or less the same thing, but the sentence with "to" makes more sense to me. In writing at any level above conversational I would consider "at" to be an error assuming the writer intends to describe the speaker as walking towards the door.

I would use "at" in instances when you wanted to describe the speaker not moving relative the door, or observing the door, for example:

I stood at her door.

or

I gazed at her door.

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    This post ignores the existence of separable verbs (for instance if someone "shoots up a bank" the word "up" isn't really functioning as it normally does to refer to a relative location). "Come at" and "come to" really just have idiomatically different meanings. I don't think that trying to parse the "at" and "to" as prepositions is quite correct, since it doesn't necessarily generalize to other phrases. – SeldomNeedy Jan 8 at 23:03
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It sounds much more correct to use "to", as saying "at", to me, sounds like you are "coming back" in terms of a "comeback", as though the door has insulted you, and now you're "going back at" it. It's as though you are attacking the door in some way.

Also, I don't know what the context is, but I imagine that in the vast majority of cases you'd actually be wanting to say:

I went right back to her door.

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    To clarify the reasoning here a little, "to come at" means loosely "to attack" or "to assault". A common informal usage is "Come at me, bro!", which is essentially an invitation to fight, whereas "Come to me, bro!" is not inherently threatening or competitive. – SeldomNeedy Jan 8 at 0:41
  • @SeldomNeedy: A good addition, thanks! – Chris Mack Jan 8 at 12:07
  • If her door was spewing insults at me, and I was a bit drunk, I would probably come back at the door. – Ole Tange Jan 9 at 0:04
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    This surely depends where you are when you make the statement? If you're stood at (or near to) "her" door, then "I came right back" makes more sense because you came "here"... it would be odd to say "went" if you're referring to the location where you are at the time. – Wolfie Jan 9 at 10:35
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    @Chris that's why I said "(or near to)", since I'd probably use "came" if I were just at her house... but anyway that's enough exceptions to exceptions to the rule, I was just adding a thought! – Wolfie Jan 9 at 10:44
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They are both correct but have different nuances:

I rang her doorbell but she was not home so I went to do some shopping. Afterwards, I came right back to her door and tried the bell again.

compared to:

I was the duty firefighter when we were called out to her house. On arriving, I looked through the window and could see her on the floor in the hallway. I started to use the fire axe to break down the door then there was an explosion which sent me backwards. I came right back at her door, attacking it with the axe.

If you are going "to" the door then you are going to the location of the door but if you are going "at" the door then you are performing an action at the door.

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One related thing that I don't see covered by the other answers: while "came right back at her door" means something quite strange, this doesn't mean that "at her door" is always wrong. "to her door" emphasizes travel/motion/action, while "at her door" talks more about the door as a location or end state.

For example, you might write,

Just an hour later, I was right back at her door.

to give the impression that your actions were beyond your control: you just couldn't help but go back. You found yourself at her door without thinking about the act of going there.

  • I was also thinking that "at" described the direction without the location of arrival, e.g. "I came right back at her door, but her football-playing brother knocked me sideways onto the ground." – Eliot Gillum Jan 9 at 8:52
  • I don't really understand what distinction you're trying to make, and your example sentence makes little sense to me. – amalloy Jan 9 at 10:18
2

Most often, you come to a door. You don't come at a door.

Likewise, you come to a party. You don't come at a party. Well, I guess it depends on the party. Another exception to this rule may be a bro. You can come to a bro for help, or you can come at a bro to fight.

I guess what it boils down to is your intended action once you get to the door. If your intentions are good, then you come to the door. If your intentions could potentially cause conflict, especially against the door itself, then I suppose you could come at the door.

I hope that clears things up for you.

2

I came back to her door.

This means that I left, then at a later time returned to the location of the door.

I came back at her door.

This (could) mean that I was playing a game, was killed, and my respawn point was next to the door.

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Both are grammatical. The only difference I can fathom is that, if you're using the former, then your objective of going back is tethered with the door, and not her.

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    As an example: If a firefighter was briefly pushed away from trying to open a door, behind which was a woman needing rescue. – puppetsock Jan 7 at 14:38
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If it is spoken word as opposed to text;

Coming right at the door of a female could be misinterperated as slang for directing your semen toward her vagina or buttock region at the point of sexual climax, depending on whether it was the front door (vagina) or back door (anus).

For example; "I'd like to smash her back door in" can mean "I would like to have anal intercourse with her".

The verbs 'to come' and 'to cum' are pronounced the same, however, 'to cum' means to ejaculate, hence the potential for confusion.

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"At" also can mean "on the surface of", also it does not sound like one could use it in normal conversation. Something like "my image on a door" may be a way to use it :

She had TVs everywhere. She saw my image on the kitchen's TV and turned it off screaming. I came right back at her door.

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