I'm writing about a person who comes into the room twice and both times turns the light on and then off.

I'm wondering if I can avoid repetition with the expressions like

  • taps the light switch (off);
  • slams the switch on;
  • shuts the light (off).

Are those three grammatically correct? Or maybe there are more common ways to say that?

Thank you!

  • 2
    How about "Switch the light on/off"? Jul 10, 2019 at 16:50
  • slam is a forceful action. Slam a light switch and you could break it. Why would you be seeking to avoid repetition when you've gone out of your way to include a repetitive action in your story? Just sayin'
    – TimR
    Aug 19 at 16:19
  • Extinguish the light ... Kindle the light ...
    – GEdgar
    Aug 19 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


taps the light switch (off)


slams the switch on

both sound fine to me, although the first might suggest a neutral or tentative mood and the second is more aggressive.

shut the light off

is rarely used in the context of operating a switch and sounds odd. It's probably more appropriate in a situation where the light is being blocked, for example by closing a door.

In addition to Stu W's suggestion of 'flipping the switch', you could also use:

She clicked the light switch on and off again


She flicked the light switch on and off again

I use 'light switch' in these examples and not just 'light' because I think 'turn on the light' could refer to a number of ways of switching a lamp on, whereas 'clicking' and 'flicking' (and 'flipping') are more specific to the typical type of plastic wall switch you'd find in modern buildings.


Flipped the switch.

Joe came into the room and flipped the switch, bathing the whole area in warm shades of yellow.

  • Note of interest...a breaker box is called a flip-on in many parts of Latin America. Jul 12, 2019 at 13:48

Sometimes, even using different words, a thing can still be repetitive. You could change it more by changing the structure.

For example:

He peered into the darkness curiously until his hand found the switch again.

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