back

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UK:*UK and possibly other pronunciationsUK and possibly other pronunciations/ˈbæk/US:USA pronunciation: IPA and respellingUSA pronuncation: IPA/bæk/ ,USA pronunciation: respelling(bak)


WordReference Collins English Usage © 2020
back
used with an intransitive verb
You use back with an intransitive verb to say that someone returns to a place where they were before.
In six weeks we've got to go back to West Africa.
I went back to the kitchen.
I'll come back after dinner.
‘be back’
In conversation, instead of saying that someone will ‘come back’, you often say that they will be back.
I imagine he'll be back for lunch.
Pete will be back from holiday next week.
Be careful
You never use ‘back’ with the verb return. You do not say, for example, ‘He returned back to his office’. You say ‘He returned to his office’.
I returned from the Middle East in 1956.
used with a transitive verb
You use back with a transitive verb to say that someone or something is taken or sent to a place where they were before. Back usually goes after the direct object.
We brought Dolly back.
He took the tray back.
When the direct object is a pronoun, back always goes after it.
I brought him back to my room.
She put it back on the shelf.
However, when the direct object is a long noun group, or a noun group followed by a relative clause, you put back in front of the noun group.
He recently sent back his rented television set.
He put back the silk sock which had fallen out of the drawer.
He went to the market and brought back fresh food which he cooked at home.
returning to a former state
Back can also be used to say that someone or something returns to a state they were in before.
He went back to sleep.
...a £30 million plant which will turn all the waste back into sulphuric acid.
used as a noun
Back is also a noun. Your back is the part of your body from your neck to your waist that is on the opposite side to your chest and stomach.
We lay on our backs under the ash tree.
She tapped him on the back.
The back of an object is the side or part that is towards the rear or farthest from the front.
Many relatives sat at the back of the room, some visibly upset.
Keep some long-life milk at the back of your refrigerator.
The back of a door is the side which faces into a room or cupboard.
Pin your food list on the back of the larder door.
The back of a piece of paper is the side which has no writing on, or the side which you look at second.
Sign on the back of the prescription form.
Note that in British English you do not talk about the ‘back side’ of a door or piece of paper. However, in American English, this construction is common.
Be sure to read the back side of this sheet.
'back' also found in these entries:
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