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Considering the 'back' is used as an adverb meaning 'In, to, or toward a former condition' can I use it in these cases?

First example.

Susan was looking at Jack, then something made her look away, then she looked back at him.

I'm asking this because 'look back' is also a phrasal verb that is normally used to mean 'look backwards' or 'think about something in the past'. So in this case 'back' would simply mean 'again'.

The second example is very similar, only with the verb 'turn'.

Susan was looking at Jack, then something made her look away, then she turned back to him.

What I want to mean is that Susan resumed her attention towards him. But even in this case, 'turn back (to)' is also a phrasal verb that has other meanings. So, can I use the word 'back' in this literal sense without causing confusion to the reader?

A third example would be with the verb 'sit'. 'Sit back' is a phrasal verb with its own meaning, but can I use it to mean 'sit again'?

1 Answer 1

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The meaning of both phrases is clear because of their context. Any native English speaker would understand the intended meaning of the sentences. They both mean Susan was looking at Jack, after being distracted Susan returned her attention to him.
The meaning of sit back is again context dependant. It depends on whether the person was already sitting. It can either mean to adjust your position in the chair whilst remaining seated.
For example

Jack leaned forwards to talk to Susan then sat back to read his book.

Or it can mean to return to the chair and sit down again. So it depends on whether the person was already sitting.
For example

Jack got up, walked over to Susan to give her his book, then returned to his chair and sat back down again.

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