Adverbs of Place

Over at the Culips Facebook page, we’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about why in English we don’t use the preposition to with words like home, downtown, and outside. (You can check out the Culips Facebook page at

So why do we say “I’m going to school” but not “I’m going to home”? Instead, we say “I’m going home,” with no preposition.

As many English teachers (and probably all English students!) will tell you, English can sometimes be a weird language, and there are some things about it that you just have to get used to by listening and reading as much as you can until things start to sound natural to you.

But that explanation isn’t very helpful when you just want to know WHY something is the way it is. So here’s my attempt at explaining why we don’t use the preposition to with certain words, like home, inside, and away.

When we say, “I went home,” the word home isn’t being used as a noun. It’s not a specific, physical place the way that school is. It’s more of an abstract, general idea. So in this case, the word home is actually an adverb (“an adverb of place” is the technical term), which doesn’t require a preposition. There are other adverbs of place like this too, and we don’t use a preposition with any of these words either.

Some examples are:
• inside/outside – It’s too cold out here. Let’s go inside.
• downstairs/upstairs – Can you please go downstairs and turn the TV off?
• downtown/uptown – Yesterday we went downtown to do some shopping.
• here/there – How was your vacation in Hawaii? I really want to go there someday!
• somewhere/anywhere – I don’t feel like going anywhere today. Let’s stay home.
• abroad – Last year I went abroad to study English.
• away – Go away. I don’t want to talk to you right now.
• back – I forgot my hat at the restaurant, but I went back and luckily it was still there.

But unlike with the words listed above, you can also use the word home as a specific place, but then you have to add the preposition to, and you also have to specify whose home it is. For example, if your friend came over for dinner, you could say, “She came to my home last weekend.” If you only said “She came home last weekend,” it would sound like you both share the same home. For example, you could say, “My wife was visiting her parents out of town, but she came home last weekend.”

We can think about this abstract/general concept to explain why we sometimes do and sometimes don’t use a preposition with home, but the truth is, it can be confusing. This is definitely one of those things that you just get better at the more you use and hear the language, but maybe this little explanation will help you to remember until then!

Spoken interview

Posted by Andrew Bates
23 Aug, 2017

In this special bonus episode, we talk to our friends at Spoken about an exciting way to improve...

How can I improve my English?

Posted by Andrew Bates
2 Feb, 2017

Here at Culips, two of the questions we get asked all the time are: 1. How can I...

Nostalgic Canadian Kids’ TV: Show notes

Posted by Andrew Bates
18 Oct, 2016

In Chatterbox episode #175, Morag and Andrew talk all about their favourite Canadian TV shows for kids. They make...

Pictures from Suzanne’s adventure in Costa Rica!!

Posted by Andrew Bates
3 Oct, 2016

Suzanne shared some great stories about her adventure in Costa Rica in Chatterbox episode #173. Here are some pictures...

Vietnamese Menu

Posted by Andrew Bates
12 Sep, 2016

In Real Talk #4, we talked about ordering lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. Here are a couple of...

Ordering Lunch at Tim Hortons

Posted by Andrew Bates
1 Sep, 2016

In Real Talk #3, we talk about ordering lunch at Tim Hortons, a Canadian fast food restaurant named...

Sue’s Karaoke Cuts

Posted by Andrew Bates
24 Aug, 2016

In Chatterbox #170, Sue tells us that she sang Karaoke during her trip to Orlando, Florida. Here are...

Does Mozart eat Pizza and Mozzarella: TS or ZZ?

Posted by Andrew Bates
25 Jul, 2016

We recently had a message on Facebook inquiring as to why we pronounce PIZZA, MOZART, NAZI, and MOZZARELLA...

In A Cab Comprehension Questions

Posted by Andrew Bates
22 Jul, 2016

In our latest episode, Real Talk 001: In A Cab, we asked you three comprehension questions. If you...

Pizza Ladder

Posted by Andrew Bates
13 Jun, 2016

A Culips listener from South Korea sent us an email asking about Andrew’s use of the expression pizza...

5 Ways You Can Support Culips

Posted by Andrew Bates
21 Apr, 2016

A lot of people ask us how they can support Culips. Your support means we can dedicate more...

Tips for Learning English

Posted by Andrew Bates
27 Mar, 2016

Everyone knows that learning English is difficult, but don’t worry—Culips is here to help! We’ve put together a...

Happy New Year!

Posted by Andrew Bates
1 Jan, 2016

The holidays provide a great opportunity to take some time and reflect back on the past 365 days....