Grammar Chaos: Finding Direction—How to Use Come and Go

Posted on Jul 05, 2017

Come and go seem like easy-enough verbs to understand, but despite how well you think you know the English language, they can still be confusing. This is because come and go both express the same type of action: movement. The difference is in the direction.

Come and Go by CS Lewis

Here are some sentences that may shed some light on their differences:

   Jenny wants to come to the party.

   Jenny wants to go to the party.

The difference is in the direction. When you use come, you imply that the movement of the subject is toward the speaker. So in the example, the speaker is already in the party. Jenny wants to be in the party that the speaker is in.

Go, on the other hand, is used to express movement way from the speaker. In the example, the speaker is with Jenny, but Jenny wants to be in a party where the speaker is not.

So what’s the trick? Determine the location. If the subject is moving toward, use come. If the subject is moving away, use go.

Here are some other ways come and go is used:

  1. “Come from” is an idiom used to say that a person’s hometown is a certain place. “Go from” does not exist.

    Sidney comes from New Zealand

    This cheese came from Europe

  2. “Go to” on the other hand is a prepositional phrase.

    I want to go to a spa.

    Gigi is going to Vietnam.

  3. However, “come to” exists, and it means “to arrive at something.”

    The board was able to come to an agreement.

    The judges came to a decision.

  4. Go can also be used with adverbs of place, directions, and accompaniment.

    Lily was asked to go inside the house.

    Go away, I don’t need you here!

To recap, come is often used when the direction of the action is toward the speaker. Go is used when the direction is away from the speaker. So before you decide on using one of the two, remember to consider direction.

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