Sophia was awakened by the rattling sound of the alarm clock. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up, and after fumbling for a while, she finally managed to turn the alarm off. She lay on her back again, wondering why David had to set the alarm on Sunday. But when she looked to the side to ask him, she realized he was no longer here/there.

Should I use here or there in the passage above?

closed as off-topic by MetaEd, user49727, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Bradd Szonye, Hellion Sep 24 '13 at 19:24

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  • There, because David doesn't sleep in the same space that she does, does he? – mikhailcazi Sep 22 '13 at 10:53
  • @mikhailcazi, that does not matter. ‘Here’ does not necessarily have to be the exact same place as something else. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 22 '13 at 11:09
  • 4
    Off topic (request for writing advice). – MetaEd Sep 22 '13 at 14:30
  • See my comment at Andrew Leach below. – Kris Sep 22 '13 at 15:04

Use there.

The reason is that you are writing from the point of view of a third party who has observed events and is relating them as having occurred in the past.

Here relates to the place at the side of Sophia. From the point of the view of the narrator, that is there because it is not where the narrator is.

  • So, if he were still 'there' the narrator should have used 'here'? It is unclear what relevance the time frame has in this context. – user51029 Sep 22 '13 at 10:57
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    He isn't there: he's writing in the past tense. If the work were re-cast in the present tense it becomes more tenable, but even then there is to be preferred because it means "in that place" and "in this place" would still not be correct. – Andrew Leach Sep 22 '13 at 11:02
  • -1 Here & there are not antonyms -- they mean different things. There is more often used as a dummy (like the existential it) in such constructions than to mean something 'distant'. That way, both can be correct. There's also a 'rule' about 'this' vs. 'that' which is another aspect again. It's not so simple to decide. – Kris Sep 22 '13 at 15:02

Andrew is right. You might also want to think about changing ‘when she looked to the side’. It almost sounds as if you mean she turned away. Perhaps make it more explicit with something like ‘when she looked over to his side of the bed’.

  • When she turned to ask him flows better – mplungjan Sep 22 '13 at 13:41
  • Wouldn't there be like the existential it in the sentence? – Kris Sep 22 '13 at 15:05
  • I don't think so. It's definitely deictic. – Barrie England Sep 22 '13 at 15:09

Of course the answer must be 'there' as some narrator[third person] is telling all this for him it would be 'there' not 'here'.


She (here) looked to 'the side' (there).

I think that the tense is relevant but I'm not sure how to explain it well. If she were talking in the present she would say 'he isn't here' (right next to me right now). To say in the present, 'he isn't there' suggests some distance from the speaker, like in another room for example. Can someone help with the rule about the tense?

  • Wait, I got confused. It is 'there' because of the narrator. But if Sophia was speaking then I think my point would still stand. – sugarqween004 Sep 22 '13 at 19:11

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