On the wrong side of the bars


For instance, I warn to warn somebody that he can end up behind bars, can I say the following:

  1. You’d best back away now, lest you wind up on the wrong side of the bars.
  2. You’d best back away now, lest you wind up on the wrong side of bars.

Thanks for help!

You would use (1) in that instance.

Using 2 would lead some people (me) to think you were warning me against ending up as a barmaid, pulling pints in pubs!

Thank you Bev,

I have a small follow-up question: can I substitute the verbs “back off” or “back down” for the verb “back away” in my sentence without any tangible change in meaning?

Hehe, no, that’s positively not what I originally had in mind. It’s funny how articles can turn around the meaning sometimes.

Back away/back off are the same.
I’d say there was a very subtle change of meaning when using ‘back down’.

Back off/away/up are warnings to step back away from a situation.
Back down can also mean the same, but can more often mean ‘renounce’, ‘take back what you said’, ‘not continue to support that particular belief through your words or actions’

I see your point.
I left out the verb “back up”.
Thank you for your efforts and happy New Year!

Penblwydd Hapus Newydd i chi hefyd, Tort.
Happy New Year to you too, Tort.

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