the difference between words: come and go

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Many of my students get confused between when to use “come” and when to use “go”, so today I’d like to try to help people understand this. Generally speaking, we use “come” when talking about the place where we are RIGHT NOW, and we use “go” when talking about another place. For example:

I went to work yesterday even though it was a Sunday. (I’m not at work now.)

I came to this class because I want to learn how to play the piano. (Right now, I’m at the piano class.)

I think that part is quite simple and easy to understand by most people. However, sometimes we use “come” when talking about a place where we are NOT right now. Please study the following example:

A: Can you come to my house for dinner tonight?

B: Ok, sure. That would be great. I can come to your house at 7:00 tonight.

In this case, person A uses “come” because they are inviting someone to spend time with them at their home. In these cases, we always use “come”. Person B also uses “come” because they are speaking directly to the person whose home they will spend time at. However, if person B is talking to another person about this event, they will use “go”. For example:

A: Do you want to see a movie with me tonight?

B: I’m sorry, but I can’t. I have to go to my friend’s house for dinner at 7:00 tonight.

Person A will also use “come” to talk about person B going to the place where person A is right now, even if it’s not their home. Person B will also use “come” in this situation. For example:

A: I’m at the restaurant now. What time can you come here?

B: I can come there at 8:00.

So, we use “come” when inviting someone to our home or when talking directly to a person about going to a certain place, but if we invite them to another place, we use “go”. For example:

A: Would you like to go to the park with me this weekend?

B: Sounds great. What time do you want to go?

A: Let’s go at around 2:00 on Sunday.

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10 Comments »

  1. rozzamae Said:

    thanks a lot! good thing i found this article. it’s very helpful. now, it is SO clear to me. :)

  2. jessica Said:

    im learning english and no is clearer to me but not at all … i red a post someone wrote to a person and that’s why i dont understand so maybe you can help me B : ” I believe you can do them! But if for some reason they’re not done next time I come, I will gladly help.” that person was in another country and she uses come is ok to do that? if you are in another country and you use come… last time i wanted to say to a friend who lives in another country i will visit his country …but i wasnt sure how to say it… so i wrote ” I WANT TO GO” was that ok? or should i used i want to come to ___?

    • Hi there.

      The person wrote “come” because they were speaking or writing directly to the person in the other country. If we are speaking to another person who is NOT in that country, we use “go”.

      So, for your situation, because you were speaking to your friend DIRECTLY in that country, you should have said, “I want to come to your country.”

      I hope that helps you.

      Mike

  3. Mariam Li Said:

    I just see on a video that to invite someone to a place we always must use come,( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Osvix7qAYo&NR=1)Please: Check when he says would you come with me to the shops,
    Well, then i see here the distinction.again, In the video He speaks about direction and location. and you, about the person location. I ve found your ideas clearer and that s why i ask you a distinction, again if it is possible. Thank you so much.!

    • Hi there.

      I agree that the video was not very clear. In the example he gave about “Can you come with me to the shops?” that person uses “come” because he/she is inviting someone to do something with them. In those situations, we always say “come with me” because the person is speaking to another person DIRECTLY and making the invitation. So, person B would say, “Ok, I’ll come with you to the shops.” However, if they are speaking to another person about that situation they would say “I will go to the shops with my friend.”

      I hope that answers your question.

      Mike

      • Mariam Li Said:

        Yes, definitely. Thank you so much Mike!!!! you are, Owesome!!!

  4. Marija Said:

    hello there,
    I never had a doubt about using words go and come, however my husband suddenly started correcting my english and of course we both believe that the other one is wrong. I am not sure how to put this in question clearly, so I’ll try putting everything in e.g. A person is leaving to shop n before going out says to a person B “I’m coming”. The person A intends to say, that he will leave to shop n return back home. Is that a correct way to say? Or should he say “I’m leaving/going to shop and will come back”? Also if person is telling another one about a trip by bus which is leading home, should he say “while i was going home” or ” while i was coming home”, though the other person who is listening doesn’t live together, so he was not waiting at that place. So i guess what I’m asking is if a word ‘come’ can be used in a meaning of going out and returning back?

    • Hi there.

      If a person is about to leave to go shopping, they would say something like, “I’m going out now to shop for clothes and I’ll come back in about three hours.” They would never say “I’m coming” if they’re about to leave. Also, with the example of the person returning by bus, they would say “while I was going home” to the person because they don’t live together and that person was not waiting at that place.

      I hope that answers your question.

      Mike

  5. Pedram Said:

    Hi all,

    I believe that Person A, in the last example, could say:

    “”Would you like to come with me the park on Saturday””

    As he has already planned to go there. This is like the situation you explained to Mariam Li .

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Thanks

    • Hi there.

      Yes, you’re right. It is possible to say “Would you like to come to the park with me on Saturday?”

      I was just thinking about if there’s a difference between come and go in this situation, and I think I have the answer.

      If we say, “Would you like to come to the park with me on Saturday?” it means that the person is already planning to go and he/she is inviting this person along.

      If we say, “Would you like to go to the park with me on Saturday?”, as in my example, it means that the person is trying to make plans with this person and wasn’t already planning to go there.

      Thank you for your question!

      Mike


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