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What is the rule of not using at before home? For example,

  • When he called me I was (at) home.
  • I am always (at) home on Sundays.
  • He came to my place at 6pm and by that time I had already been (at) home.
  • Hello! Is anyone (at) home?
  • I am (at) home at last!
  • I am always complimented (at) home.
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I haven't researched this, but it seems to me that at is

  • optional when home is the complement of a form of be (am, was, are, been etc)

  • required when home is a modifier (as in your last example)

  • disallowed with go, come and synonyms.

But I'm sure there are some exceptions to these rules of thumb. One interesting one is your third example:

He came to my place at 6pm and by that time I had already been (at) home.

where at changes the meaning. Had already been home invokes the idiomatic meaning of been as a sort of verb of motion, and implies that I had been home and gone away again.

Had already been at home is barely possible for me without an expression of duration (Had already been at home for several minutes).

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 for without an expression of duration (Ok, for all of it) For me it is not possible without a duration. Absent a duration it would just be "I was [already home | already at home]" – Jim Jun 5 '12 at 1:24

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