Stop By – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you have a small errand to run? Did a friend ask you whether you could meet up to return the book you borrowed? The phrase “to stop by” can be used in both cases. Keep reading to learn when people started “stopping by”, what it means, and how to use the phrase in a sentence.

​​​Meaning

The English verb phrase “to stop by” is an informal way to describe a brief social visit or a short errand.

You can also use the closely-related variation “to stop in”, which has the same meaning.

The expression can be used on its own, as in: “Yes, I’ll stop by later this afternoon.”

It may also be followed by the place the person is due to visit, as in: “I’ll be free most of the day, but I do have to stop by the bank at some point.”

Inviting someone to “stop by” is usually a way to let the guest know that the visit will be short.

​​​Example Usage

Are you not sure how you can incorporate the phrase “to stop by” into a sentence? Take a look at these examples:

  • “Are you still planning to stop by later? If you show up around lunch, you can eat with us.”
  • “Sure, come over, but just so you know, Danny is also stopping by around 8.”
  • “I stopped by the post office on my way home from work.”

​​​Origin

The verb phrase “to stop by” appears to have become a part of the English language no earlier than the late nineteenth century. The first recorded uses of the phrase are from the beginning of the twentieth century.

The closely-related expression “to stop in”, which has the meaning, predates “to stop by” by around 50 years.

The expression is typically used to describe a brief errand or a short social visit. In some cases, however, inviting someone to “stop by” is simply a casual way to invite them for a visit (of any duration): “Are you free to stop by on Tuesday?”

While “stopping by” is a casual term, it is not slang. It is common to hear the phrase in a variety of settings, including in business interactions. The phrase is so acceptable that you can use it almost everywhere.

​Phrases Similar to Stop By

Apart from its close cousin “to stop in”, you have plenty of other alternatives if you don’t want to use the phrase “to stop by”. All of these verb phrases are similar in tone as well as identical in meaning:

  • To swing by
  • To drop in/by
  • Pop in/round

If you are looking for a less casual way to convey the same meaning, you could talk about “running a brief errand” or “making a short visit”.

​Phrases Opposite to Stop By

Has someone asked you if you could “stop by”, but you can’t or don’t want to? You could use the following expressions to describe your desire not to “stop by”:

  • I’ll give that a miss
  • I’ll pass

If, on the other hand, you are running a long errand or planning a longer visit, there are no equivalent casual phases for these concepts.

​​What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “to stop by (a place)”. It means running a short errand or making a quick visit.

​​​Ways People May Say Stop By Incorrectly

English learners may not understand that the phrase “to stop by” is typically used to denote a very brief visit or errand.

If someone asks you to “stop by”, you could ask to find out exactly what they had in mind. It is safe to assume, however, that you the invitation in question is either very casual or serves a specific purpose, such as to pick up something you forgot.

​​​Acceptable Ways to Phrase Stop By

You can use the phrase “to stop by” if you’re running a short errand at a place like the bank, grocery store, library, or flower shop. You can also use the expression to invite someone to see you for a short visit.

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