Archive for February 7, 2011

the difference between words: go somewhere and get somewhere

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Today I’d like to go over a common misunderstanding for many of my students – when to use “go” somewhere and when to use “get” somewhere.  The difference is that we usually use “go” when talking about leaving for a certain place, and we use “get” when talking about arriving at that place. For example:

I usually go home at 8:00 and get home at 8:45.

Come on! Let’s go! It’s going to take us at least 20 minutes to get to the movie theater. We don’t want to be late!

A: We’re going to go to the park at around 2:00.

B: Ok, no problem. What time do you think we’ll get there?

A: We should get there at about 2:30.

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A: How do you commute to work every day?

B: I go by train.

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A: How do you commute to work every day?

B: I get there by train.

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A: How long does it take you to get to your office?

B: It usually takes me 40 minutes to get there.

In the fourth example, person B answers the question using “go”, but in the fifth example, person B answers the same question using “get”. The reason is that in the fifth example, the person is mentioning the place, which is represented by the word “there”. Therefore, we say “get there” because the person is focusing on the idea of arriving at that place. In the fourth example, the person is focusing on the journey itself, so they use “go”.

Please note that when we use “here” and “there”, we usually don’t put “to” in front of them. Therefore, we say:

I go to my office by train every day.

but

I go there by train every day.

We usually use “to” in front of a location, but there are some exceptions. These are the words: “home”, “downtown”, “abroad” and “overseas”. For example:

I got home very late last night, so my wife was angry.

We’re going downtown tonight to see a movie. Do you want to come with us?

I’m going to go abroad for the first time next month.

I don’t want to go overseas. I prefer staying in my own country.

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