The you is Harry Potter. I’m really curious about the grammatical construction and the reason why JKR chose it.

”Mrs. Weasley, why – ?”

”Ron and Hermione will explain everything, dear, I’ve really got to dash,” Mrs. Weasley whispered distractedly. “There” – they had reached the second landing – “you’re the door on the right. I’ll call you when it’s over.” (Harry Potter 5 [US Version]: p.62)

N.B.: Mrs. Weasley has just led Harry to his room. She is in a rush because she has to attend a meeting downstairs.

I think it means "your room is at the door on the right," but Mrs. Weasley might be making a mistake because she’s in hurry. I don’t know for sure, though.

  1. What’s the true meaning of “you’re the door on the right”?
  2. If it’s grammatically acceptable, is there any omission in the sentence?
  3. If it’s grammatically acceptable, what situation do you use it in? And what’s the difference in listeners’ impressions between this kind (a-person-is-an-object type) of sentence and the more common version?
  4. Would you give me some examples of a-person-is-an-object sentences?
  • If the author specifically uses the word "distractedly", it is fair to assume that Mrs Weasley is not being careful about her grammar. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 13:01
  • Even after accepting an answer, I’m not sure about its grammaticality for sure, but I now became more interested in practical issue: when it is used (or not used). Practically speaking, there seem sentences of that type on the Net(, though I may well take them wrong). I hope I can open another question from a new approach in the future.
    – user7493
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 21:58
  • I can’t help associating it with a construction of Japanese language. In Japanese, the top word of a sentence often works as the theme of the sentence. So “you’re the door on the right” looks like to me “when it comes to you (or your room), the door is on the right”. Oddly enough, I feel as if she spoke natural Japanese when I read English.
    – user7493
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 21:59
  • I opened another question relating to this one today.
    – user7493
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 6:41

4 Answers 4

  1. Your understanding of the sentence is correct—it means that Harry's room is the one on the right.

  2. It is grammatically acceptable, but a sentence that is grammatically correct is not necessarily meaningful. In this case, however, it is understandable, but your phrasing of the sentence would be the complete form.

  3. Personally, I would not use this construction; it's a rather unusual one. Using this sentence might imply familiarity or distraction, depending on the observer.

  4. I can think of several, but they are not in the same style as your quote. Most sentence of this type, such as You are my doll, use meanings that have become embedded in the language and are reported on in dictionaries. Sentences like those in your quote are extremely unlikely to be encountered and I would not recommend using them.

  • 3
    1. Correct. 2. Misleading. There is no "complete" form. The quote as it stands is complete. It is a common locution. 3. Incorrect. It's not unusual. I've heard it many times in many places. 4. Near gibberish; indecipherable. Overall, this answer is mostly wrong and unhelpful. Commented May 6, 2013 at 9:45

Both of the current answers claim that this is unusual usage. I'm just posting an answer to say that, in my experience, it's not unusual at all.

  • So it may be a regional thing? Where have you heard it, if I may ask?
    – nico
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 14:02
  • @nico: I've lived my whole life in Raleigh, NC, USA, but there are people here from all over the US, so I have a hard time narrowing things down to a specific region.
    – wfaulk
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 14:58
  • 1
    I agree. Perfectly normal in conversation (in the UK)
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:41
  • 1
    One domain where it's very common is in amateur radio in the USA, in giving signal reports ("You're 5 by 9") or contest exchanges ("You're 4F CT").
    – aedia λ
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 19:47
  • 1
    UK. Absolutely normal.
    – Karl
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 20:11

This is a common but informal variation on the figure of speech called metonym ("name beyond"), where a piece or an aspect of something is equated with the whole, as in "all hands on deck" or "I drank the whole bottle." In this case, the person is directly and explicitly equated to something that belongs to them.

Here are some typical usages:

  • Waitress: "OK, you're the steak dinner, right, and you're the fish?"
  • Coach: "You're the Green Team today, Sport!"
  • Athlete: "Am I the gold medal?"
  • Little Red Riding Hood's father: "OK, remember, Granny is the path on the left, the wolf is the path on the right."

It's basically a species of metaphor.


The omitted word is something akin to "assigned". It is equivalent to "You are assigned the door on the right" or "You are to use the door on the right". It could just as well be understood as "your door is the door on the right".

It is an unusual construct, but one that it certainly grammatically acceptable in conversation. I wouldn't use it in formal writing.

The only other person-as-object structures I could find are metaphors to indicate the person is like the object.

  • There's no reason to suggest any word is omitted. The original print version is a very common locution, complete as it is. Commented May 6, 2013 at 9:42
  • @JohnM.Landsberg Then what is it claiming is the relationship between the person spoken to and the door on the right? With no omitted work, the claimed relationship is equivalence, which doesn't really make any sense. Commented May 6, 2013 at 9:51
  • 1
    It's an idiom, David, and quite common and well known (more so in England than the USA). Many idioms do not make obvious logical sense when analyzed as nothing more than explicit statements. Yes, it is a sort of equivalence; it's a metaphorical linkage that implies a sort of possession; if you are that door, then you "own" it and all that is within the room to which it leads. We commonly say "that's your room," but that is not literally true, either, is it? You don't literally own it, but this is the same concept as what is conveyed by "you're that door." Commented May 6, 2013 at 10:01
  • I would say "that's your room" does mean that it's the room assigned to you, just as "you're that door" means that that's the door that is assigned to your or associated with you. I also agree that it's an idiom -- an idiom that omits having to state precisely what the relationship is. Commented May 6, 2013 at 10:03

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