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Two men step into the room, look around, find nothing, and leave again.

Writing "again" sounds natural to me even though it's not like they have left the room one time before, but I'm not a native speaker, so could anyone please tell me if it's correct?

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  • I'm curious. Why do you want to include again here -- what do you think it will achieve? – FeliniusRex Feb 1 at 21:03
  • I believe I have seen it used like this when someone enters a place before leaving it shortly after. And it sounds better to me. Are you asking because it doesn't make any sense to you to use it or is it correct but you just don't think it adds anything to the sentence? – user129178 Feb 1 at 21:28
  • I'm asking because the sentence means that the two men left the room a second time. Is that what you want to say? – FeliniusRex Feb 1 at 21:30
  • It is a typical writing error made by young or inexperienced writers. Warning: This is an opinion. – Lambie Mar 8 at 15:38
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I couldn't find any good references to this online, and I am not an English teacher. Consider this a native English speaker's perspective.

Does this usage of again sound natural? Yeah, in a natural conversation or when reading casually, I wouldn't notice this as strange. Even if I were to scrutinize a piece of writing containing this sentence I probably wouldn't notice a logical flaw. If I notice anything at all it's only because you have already pointed it out.

Is this usage correct? A harder question to answer. My initial gut feeling is to say, technically, no it's wrong. But I think the meaning you are going for here, and possibly why it feels correct/natural, is that you are using "again" to emphasize that the two men were previously outside the room, and now they are once again returning to their previous state of being outside the room.

If I were to rephrase your sentence to bring across this specific meaning:

Two men step into the room, look around, find nothing, and once again return to the hall.

In conclusion - if you want to use this phrase, it is unlikely a common reader will notice, be confused, or care. However if you are still worried about it, you can rephrase with or without "again".

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If you include the word "again," it implies that the men were in the room before. By using the word again, it sounds like it's part of a joke or some kind of story. Purely grammatically speaking, the sentence is perfectly valid. But if you think about the meaning, the word "again" modifies "leave" so it would mean that they had left the room before and come back.

Additionally, the fact that you use the article "the" with room further implies that this room could have been entered before. In other words, the sentence fully supports the idea that they have been in the room before. If they had not been in the room before, I would most certainly take out the word again.

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Odd as it may appear, this is quite idiomatic English.

It may help to think of it as like saying "and then they were gone again", or "were once again not there".

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