He called his son to the meeting room from the downstairs office. He sat him on /at his right hand.

Which one is correct, and if they both are, which would be more appropriate for a rather formal context.

Also, do I need to add side after right hand?


I feel that the on version doesn't really work at all, and the at version sounds too religious and/or formal. To be seated at the right hand of God is often said of Jesus Christ---he takes the place of honour next to the so-called Heavenly Father---and this is where most people will have heard the phrase.

Possibilities, from more to less formal:

  • He seated his son at his right-hand side
  • He seated his son on/to his right-hand side
  • He seated his son to his right
  • He seated his son on his right
  • He sat his son to his right
  • He sat his son on his right

If you wanted to be deliberately archaizing or over-formal, you could say

  • He bade his son sit to his right
  • He bade his son be seated to his right
  • In fact my real sentence IS from a religious text, you are incredible! I just wasn't sure if I can put a religious context on this site... Your answer gave me the idea to search in my KJV Bible (the one I use for translation of religious texts), and I found out that ON is the prefered preposition. Only twice AT is used but with the verb "SET DOWN" (not stand or sit or be seated) which I found peculiar.
    – fev
    Dec 11 '20 at 11:05
  • Aha, that is interesting! I should make clear that what I said about 'on' being unacceptable is just my judgement of Present-Day English. It may well have been acceptable when the KJV was written. The same goes for 'set down'.
    – legatrix
    Dec 11 '20 at 11:07
  • 1
    My former comment was not a criticism to your answer, but an apology for the "deceiving" way in which I asked my question. Will I be obsolete if in a religious text I use a set phrase from the KJV Bible then?
    – fev
    Dec 11 '20 at 11:11
  • 1
    Thanks for the suggestion. I would be open to both, though my knowledge of Ancient Greek is 10% of my Modern Greek.
    – fev
    Dec 11 '20 at 11:23
  • 1
    "On his right hand" is one of those expressions from the KJV which sound a little odd to modern ears. To me, it conjures up visions of one person literally sitting on another's hand. But, as @legatrix says, many phrases from the KJV have passed into general use (at least among the older generation). Dec 11 '20 at 13:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .