Carlos lives two houses away from me.

The above quoted sentence is constructed by me. Is it correct to use this sentence in formal writing? An American friend of mine has told me that this sentence seems odd.

How can we describe this situation (someone who lives two houses away) in an idiomatic way? How would you say “he lives two houses away” in AE or BE?

  • It would help us answer your question if you explained why you think that the quoted sentence might not be correct. As a BrE speaker I see nothing wrong with it, but maybe I am missing something.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 21:38
  • Try "down the street".
    – AIQ
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


The most idiomatic AmE version I can think of would be:

He lives two doors down from me.

There's nothing wrong with your sentence, but "doors" does seem more idiomatic to me in AmE than "houses" does (see definition 4 of door). Note that in this construction, the preposition "down" doesn't really have a true downwards sense - it just means "away from here" or "away from my home." Rarely, "up" might be used if it really is up a steep hill or if you live in a place where "uptown" is a well-defined direction (e.g., in Manhattan).

To be more precise, you could also use a cardinal direction:

He lives two doors east of me.


He lives two doors to my east.


For UK English, my grandparents would have said "next door but one", but according to this NGram Graph, that expression is in decline: "two doors away" seems to be growing in popularity, and is now roughly as common. "two houses away" is a lot less common.

For US English, this NGram graph shows that the same change has taken place, and "two doors away" overtook "next door but one" in the 1930s. "two houses away" is significantly more common than in the UK, and is currently growing rapidly.

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