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In the dictionary, The preposition "around" means "on or to another side of something".

For example, "There's another door around the back of the house."

So that sentence means "There's another door on the other side of the back of the house."

"The back of the house" has just 1 side, where is the other side of the back of the house?

Or does it mean "there's another door on the side of the house"?

That is very confusing!

Say, you are standing on 1 side of a corner and you say "the elevator is just around the corner" which means you go to the other side of the corner.

And "the back of the house" is a straight line and has no corner.

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  • If you go to the back of the house you will find another door there.
    – mdewey
    May 28 '21 at 16:08
  • @mdewey, why the dictionary say "on/to the other side of something"? Say, you are standing on 1 side of a corner and you say "the elevator is just around the corner" which means you go to the other side of the corner???
    – Tom
    May 28 '21 at 16:12
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    You're making it harder than it needs to be. What is the reason for someone saying your sentence? It's to tell the other person where the door is. How does this other person find the door? By going around the house and finding the back. That's where the door is. May 28 '21 at 16:25
  • Again, you're making it harder than it needs to be, because you're trying to apply logic hard and fast to language. Stop doing that. Language doesn't work like that. What is the purpose of telling someone what to do when the gate's locked? It's to tell them how to get into the house. How do they do that? By going around (to) the side of the house. It's all about directions. May 28 '21 at 16:27
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    You should understand it as meaning (a)round the house, at the back. If you go round a corner, you pass one corner. If you go round the house, you pass two corners! May 29 '21 at 8:10
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In this context "around" is used to mean the person must go "around the house" to find the other door on the back side of the building. It does not perfectly align with your dictionary definition, and does not imply "on the other back side of the house;" only "on the other side of the house." In that sense it would be an example of redundancy.

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  • But why "the elevator is just around the corner" perfectly match the meaning in the dictionary? You are standing on 1 side of a corner and you go to the other side of the corner but the back of the house is a straight line and has no corner
    – Tom
    May 28 '21 at 16:18
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    @Tom this usage is rather colloquial and, as I said, might be redundant. Not all native speakers use perfectly "proper" grammar at all times.
    – randomhead
    May 28 '21 at 16:20
  • But if you say "If the gate’s locked, you’ll have to go around the side of the house.", does that mean "you go to the back of the house"? Because if "you go round the side of the house" you will end up "at the back or at the front of the house", right?
    – Tom
    May 28 '21 at 16:26
  • @Tom I don't think so. If you go from one side to the other of the house, it does not necessarily mean back to front or vice-versa. House is cuboid (roughly so). The outer edge can be thought of as a rectangle. So you go around the corner to meet a different side(either length if you are at breadth or vice-versa). May 28 '21 at 16:49
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Let's overcomplicate this (seemingly) trivial topic together :)

Where is the other side of the back of the house?

The one you see from the inside. We live in a 3D space where the back of the house is something more complicated than a straight line. It's a part of the house. It could be a wall, it could be a glass extenstion, it could be any other attrached to the house structure. It's better to see it as a spatial object you can go around or approach from different points.

When you face a house, you face all its frontal sides (including, strange as it might sound, the front of the back of the house - however visible it is to you).

When you go around the back of the house, you go to the opposite side of it. Since it's a part of the house, you also end up on the opposite side of the house.

It's simpler with corners. A corner, by definition, is a place where two sides meet. You are on one side, you go around the corner (you turn it), you are on another side.

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