Is "retourner dans" invariable, or is "retourner à" also acceptable?

HarryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is "retourner dans" invariable, or is "retourner à" also acceptable?

The given translation of "Vous êtes retournés dans la maison de votre enfance" is "You went back to your childhood home." 

But can one distinguish between "going back to" (and remaining outside) and "going back into"? In other words is "retourner dans" invariable, or is "retourner à" also acceptable?

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Harry, 

It does seem odd as you could say 

Je suis retourné à la maison = chez moi = I went back home

 as 'à la maison' means 'at home'.

But you would say -

Je suis retourné dans la maison de mon enfance.

However, you would say -

Je suis retourné à Paris = I went back to Paris

Je suis retourné au travail I went back to work

Je suis retourné à l'église = I went back to church 

And this is just the way it is, I am afraid 

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Harry,

https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/retourner-%c3%a0-paris.588008/

I don't see why "Retourner à" would be unacceptable.

Hope this helps,

Jim

HarryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

@Jim - Thanks for your link and answer. In that case, surely the question should be amended to "Vous êtes retournés à la maison de votre enfance".

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Harry,

I'm inclined to agree with you, but depending upon the context perhaps "dans" would be appropriate in the sense "returning in / into"

I would normally expect to see "retourner à"

Bonne Journée

Jim

HarryC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you, Cecile. I think you've answered my question. Just one more thing, though. You wrote:

"It does seem odd as you could say 'Je suis retourné à la maison'".

Did you mean "It does seem odd to say..."?

CécileKwiziq team member

Harry, maybe ? I am recovering from a broken wrist back in September so anything is possible!

Is "retourner dans" invariable, or is "retourner à" also acceptable?

The given translation of "Vous êtes retournés dans la maison de votre enfance" is "You went back to your childhood home." 

But can one distinguish between "going back to" (and remaining outside) and "going back into"? In other words is "retourner dans" invariable, or is "retourner à" also acceptable?

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