"Stay home" or "stay at home" – which is correct and why?



Stay home.

Stay at home.

When "home" functions as an adverb, it can modify the verb "stay". There are other examples, such as "go home",but there is no expression:

Go to home.

So I wonder which one is correct.


Posted 2014-01-21T04:05:55.643

Reputation: 4 786

Question was closed 2015-01-30T16:51:23.753

I think the go to home aspect of this question makes it substantially different from the linked-to question! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-02-02T13:08:20.287



People used to think that prepositions had to come before a noun. However, in 1924 a writer called Otto Jespersen realised that prepositions are always prepositions, even if we don't use them with a noun. He also realised that some prepositions never come before nouns.

It took a long time for people to change their thinking. Now, if you look in a modern grammar such as:

  • The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language Huddleston & Pullum, 2002
  • Oxford Modern English Grammar, Aarts, 2011

... you will see that prepositions are a class of words like nouns, verbs and adjectives. It doesn't matter what kind of words we find them with.

Home in English, is a preposition. There is another word home which is a noun. We can use prepositions and preposition phrases as the complement of the verb BE:

  • She is in
  • She is in the bath
  • She is out
  • She is inside
  • She is inside the shop
  • She is away
  • She is around
  • She is about
  • She is abroad
  • She is home

Prepositions can take other preposition phrases as a complement. In other words we often use two prepositions together:

  • She is out of touch
  • She is away from her desk
  • She is round about somewhere
  • She is at home

The Original Posters examples

The verb STAY usually takes a locative complement. Usually this complement is a preposition phrase. The word at and home are both prepositions. The sentences:

  • Stay home
  • Stay at home

... are both grammatical.

The preposition to is unusual because we usually need to use it with a noun. So we see:

  • Go to work
  • Go to the shop
  • Go to a concert

The word to can't usually come before another preposition:

  • *Go to inside
  • *Go to away
  • *Go to out
  • *Go to abroad
  • *Go to home
  • *Go to at home

Notice, though that if we use the noun home instead of the preposition home, then we can use the preposition to

  • Go to my home
  • Go to different homes in the area
  • Go to homes before you buy them
  • I went to an old peoples home.

Hope this is helpful!

Araucaria - Not here any more.

Posted 2014-01-21T04:05:55.643

Reputation: 25 536


Am I mistaken in saying that "home appliances" is an not adjective, to me it is an example of a noun adjunct. See: Is the word 'home" always a noun? I have never thought of home as being a preposition but your answer has convinced me. Jay's explanation do not convince me, what are they forgetting to mention?

– Mari-Lou A – 2019-09-07T06:48:20.623

1@Mari-LouA You're not mistaken. Home isn't an adjective there since you can't say *completely / *very home appliances. You should also normally be able to do something like a cute baby -> the baby is cute, i.e. make it into a predicative construction from an attributive one, but with home appliances this doesn't work (*appliances are home). Further proof that home is a noun in home appliances is that it can be modified by an adjective: two-story / family home appliance (these don't work quite well because home appliances is sorta idiomatic in meaning, but still). – None – 2019-09-09T13:34:27.457

1Um, appliances are home is actually grammatical (I suffered from some "tunnel vision" there), but doesn't mean that appliances in question can be described as domestic or household, but rather as being home, as in, located there. It's clear from the parallel example that is what I mean. – None – 2019-09-09T13:47:08.733

1This answer is wrong in so many ways. The words “in”, “inside”, “abroad” etc. are all adverbs in the example sentences where they are not followed by another noun phrase, and so is “home”. Every dictionary agrees with this and the poster has openly admitted in comments that they reject all dictionaries and only use two specific works they happen to like. – Timwi – 2020-04-05T16:02:48.850

2Home is a preposition, as in the one of the 8 parts of speech? :-O but all dictionaries say it's an adverb. And an adverb can be used without a preposition. Home can also be sued as a noun, and that time we need a preposition. – Man_From_India – 2015-02-02T12:25:16.297

@Man_From_India That's why you should never use dictionaries for grammar:D If you check in any modern, vetted grammar source such as The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language or The Oxford Modern English Grammar you'll see that these words are ALWAYS prepositions and never adverbs! If you'd like to see the difference between prepositions and adverbs take a look at my answer here. It shows the grammar! :-)

– Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-02-02T13:03:53.203

@Man_From_India I'd be very interested to hear your opinion! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-02-02T13:05:41.430


Now that you mention it, it's an inconsistency in the language. For every other place I can think of, we say "go to" or "stay at/in". "Go to work." "Stay at work." "Go to the store." "Stay at the store." "Go to France." "Stay in France." Etc. No fluent English speaker would say "Go store" or "Stay library".

But with "home", we routinely omit the prepositions. "Stay home" is just as acceptable as "Stay at home", and people almost never say "go to home", it's always "go home".

Hmm, we do say "Go upstairs" and not "Go to upstairs", but I think that's because we're thinking of "upstairs" as a direction rather than a destination.

But note that when used as an adjective, it becomes "stay-at-home", as in, "a stay-at-home mom". No one says, "a stay-home mom".

Idioms and conventions are not always totally logical or consistent. That's what makes learning English such an adventure.


Posted 2014-01-21T04:05:55.643

Reputation: 51 729

What about this one: Go outside! – J.R. – 2014-01-21T09:11:54.487

@J.R.: That's a direction too, isn't it? I'm wondering about what's going on in the case of 'Stay where you are'/'Stay there'... – yatima2975 – 2014-01-21T11:11:09.210

@Jay: I wonder why people almost never say "go to home", it's always "go home". There must be some reasons. – user48070 – 2014-01-23T03:10:54.277

Probably because "go home" is now an accepted phrase meaning "go to your home," but "go to home" is ambiguous. Go to whose home? My home? Your home? Home base? A country that rhymes with Rome? (But if you have a location called "home" in a game, then you can "go to home" or "return to home.") – A.Beth – 2015-02-02T18:00:38.477


I am an English learner but.. I've been told that 'home' in "I'm home!" is an adverb and my dictionary do say 'home' is used as an adverb. I had been long believing that 'home' is a noun but Collins Dictionary also says it's used as an adverb. I've learned that the grammar is something came after the usage and, for instance, I've learned that 'the hard way' in "I learned it the hard way" is also an adverb. I saw a dictionary in my native tongue has 'the hard way' describing as an adverb. It's an adverb phrase and my grammar book does mention there's something like 'adverb phrase'.


Posted 2014-01-21T04:05:55.643

Reputation: 1 552

Hi, I think I've seen you at somewhere else, haven't I? :) Well, an adjunct IS often an adverb, indeed. Though these use of terminology varies person to person, I do agree on that. The term 'adjunct' is not among the eight parts of the speech, but it's about the elements of a sentence such as subject, verb, object, and complement. – karlalou – 2017-07-03T03:54:55.743

where have you seen me? Well adjunct is a function, but adverb is a word class. – Man_From_India – 2017-07-03T07:20:23.010

the hard way is indeed used here as an adverb. But it's basically an abjunct. I always think of adverb as one word. – Man_From_India – 2015-02-02T12:27:23.190


Both are correct. Nevertheless COCAE shows Stay home far too frequently used as compared to Stay at home.

Go to home is okay though very very rare.

One of the examples -

There was a few times I had to get rental skates, go out on the ice, get her off of the ice so that I could go to home and go to work.

To me, this was surprising -

Go home (verb) - return home!

The above mentioned answer answers your concern about you telling someone to stay at home and not go out.

In addition, stay-at-home can also be used as an adjective as J.R. thought worth mentioning here.

Velma works for IBM, and Bruce is a stay-at-home dad. Or: Next year, we plan to start a stay-at-home business.

Maulik V

Posted 2014-01-21T04:05:55.643

Reputation: 66 188

I don't know how you did your search, but it might be worth mentioning that stay-at-home can be used as an adjective: Velma works for IBM, and Bruce is a stay-at-home dad. Or: Next year, we plan to start a stay-at-home business.

– J.R. – 2014-01-21T09:17:01.683

@J.R. Ture but then it'll be adjective's example which the OP does not seem to concern about. In fact, the short and sweet answer is what surprised me. Go home is also considered as verb! That says it all! – Maulik V – 2014-01-21T09:26:57.053

I realize that O.P. isn't concerned about the phrase's adjectival usage. However, when an answer includes a generalization such as "COCAE shows Stay home far too frequently used as compared to Stay at home" then I think it's appropriate to do some analysis on such a search, and figure out why the numbers might be as they are. The raw totals by themselves rarely tell the entire story. – J.R. – 2014-01-21T09:31:57.480

@J.R. Okay, this might make it better. Included! – Maulik V – 2014-01-21T09:38:49.413

Go to home makes no sense to me. Go to my home is much better. Keep note that home is a noun, while something like Disney Land is a proper noun.. With a proper noun, you can say Go to Disney Land – dockeryZ – 2014-06-11T15:31:34.193

@ThePhoton, but the is a definite article which allows the writer and reader to share information about the noun store. – dockeryZ – 2014-06-12T01:35:46.443