I was at doctor office few days back and there was lady who was trying to come in the office.But couldn't as the door was locked. I told the nurse there that "somebody is on the door" and she replied back saying you mean "somebody is at the door ?".

Which one is correct ?

  • 3
    I just answered this question for in and on. The idiom at the door -- at locates the door on a two-dimensional plane (like at 25th and Locust) -- means that someone wants to come in. To say He is on the door is to say that he is arrayed on a two-dimensional object (the door), rather like a tiger skin. This is not the image you really want. Dec 3 '14 at 2:15
  • "on the door" lets me think of "the clock on the wall".
    – rogermue
    Dec 3 '14 at 6:00
  • Colloquial for a security guard, who would be said to be 'on the door' i.e. preventing the wrong people from entering. [though for the OP's example, it's 'at', of course] Dec 3 '14 at 9:50

A bouncer, security guard or doorman is said to be 'on the door', meaning in charge of the admission of those people who are at the door.


'at the door' is always correct when referring to someone knocking/using the doorbell.

'on the door' is wrong in 99% of the cases. Like someone else said, "on the door" is only correct should you want to express that someone is physically standing on top of the door.

And while JaththeGod's answer is correct, there are cases where you cannot use logic: "on the phone" for instance. Doesn't mean you're part of something, but it's still used that way.


There are several definitions of On. But On would generally be used if you're a part of something such as "I am on the team." Or sometimes being physically atop of something. "I am standing on the table." At is used when someone is somewhere, a location. "I am at the mall." "I am at the corner of the street."

  • 2
    -1 There are just so many much better answers to this (kind of) question.
    – user6951
    Dec 3 '14 at 3:04

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