"Nick is walking down the corridor when suddenly he hears footsteps just around the corner from him. He turns/spins (around) (himself) a couple of times, then runs to the nearest door and makes it inside just before a security guard comes around the corner."

Could you please give me some guidance here for which one of these would fit the context better? Should I include 'around' and 'himself' or is it not necessary? Do they all have the same meaning?

  1. He turns a couple of times.
    2) He spins a couple of times.
    3) He turns around a couple of times.
    4) He spins around a couple of times.
    5) He turns around himself a couple of times.
    6) He spins around himself a couple of times.
  • You can't spin around a couple of times unless you are a dancer. He turned in circles a couple of times, then etc. You are trying to show indecision, right?
    – Lambie
    Nov 15, 2021 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


A fluent speaker would not say "around himself". Forget those.

The most common wording would probably be "he spun around". If you say simply "he spun around", we'd normally understand you to mean that he is now facing in a different direction, like he was facing north and now he's facing south. If you say "he spun around a couple of times", we'd understand that to mean that me made multiple complete rotations. Like he went from north to west to south to east back to north and to west again, etc, several times.

If you say, "he turned around", that also means he is now facing in a different direction -- usually the opposite from the way he was facing before. But "spun around" implies he turned quickly while "turned around" implies something slower, more deliberate.

You could leave out the "around" with "spun". Like you could say, "He spun to face the intruder" or "He spun toward the door". If you say "turn" without "around", that means he was walking or otherwise moving (running, crawling, whatever) in one direction and he then altered his path, like he went around a corner. When someone says "turn" without "around", we tend to think of walking in a straight line, then altering course 90 degrees.

  • 5 and 6 ('himself') aren't idiomatic. 2 and 4 might be used to describe a ballet dancer. Jay's comments on direction are helpful. If that corner is behind him he might turn round or spin round to look at it. BrE mostly uses "round" rather than "around" in "turns round" and "spins round". Nick sounds fairly cool and relaxed as he "turns around a couple of times". As Lexico says, "couple" is informal. It means "an indefinite small number." So it is casual; like saying "roughly twice". "He glances behind him" has more urgency; or "Twice he spins round". Jan 7, 2021 at 8:10

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