How to Use the Word “Go”

How many times have you mistaken the word GO with COME?

All English learners are going to have problems with these words at some stage of their learning process.  As simple as it may seem to distinguish the difference between these words, when speaking it’s very easy to make this simple confusion.

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Another common problem you might have with GO is that it can be used in alternative ways and expressions, not just the general meaning. Similar to it’s difficult cousin, the word GET

In this article you are going to learn:

1. The general meaning of the word so you never confuse it again
2. How to use go for activities
3. Expressions with GO

GO VS COME

These two verbs are part of what I like to call “the commonly confused opposite verbs.” No matter what level you are at I’m sure at some stage you’ll make a mistake with these opposite verbs. For example, how many times have you confused bring with take? Or how about borrow and lend?

These mistakes are common for all learners, even students at an advanced level.

GO is used to explain that something or someone is moving away from where the speaker is now, or was, if used in the past form.

-I go to work at 8.00 everyday
-She goes to school in the afternoon
– Let’s go to the cinema
– He went to that new night club last night

COME is used to explain a movement that is in the direction of the speaker.

-He comes to my office every day after lunch
-If you  come to my party, can you bring some beer
-They didn’t come to my show because it was too late
-If you call the dog he will come

GO WITH ACTIVITIES

Another way we use “go” is to explain that we are doing an activity, rather than just the one singular action. The two different ways we do this is by using go + ing noun or go (out) + for a + noun. Here are some examples of both forms.

-I go swimming every weekend
– He loves going riding when he has some free time
– They went travelling last October

– Do you want to go for a walk?
-They went for a ride around the lake
-I’m going to go for a run, I haven’t done any exercise this week

GO WITH ADJECTIVES

Go can be used with certain adjectives to express a changing state of something. The meaning of “go” in this case would be similar to “become.” This is similar to how we used “get” with adjectives, as you probably remember from the RLE article “How To Use The Word Get.”

Go crazy – He went crazy when he heard the news (became crazy)
Go bald  – He will probably go bald like his father (become bald)
Go bad- The milk went bad because you left it out (expired, became undrinkable)
Go rusty- If you leave you bike in the rain it will go rusty (accumulate rust)

GO WITH DIRECTIONS AND TRANSPORT

Many people have problems when giving directions in another language, I’m sure I’ve sent a lot of people in the wrong direction when speaking Portuguese. Most of these problems can be solved by using go.

Go can be used to ask about your destination or you path, e.g.

-“Is this bus going to Central Park?”
– “If you’re going through the city can I get a ride?”

Go can also be used when giving directions to somebody. This is always used with a preposition e.g.

-“Excuse me, how do I get to the train station?”
-“Well, first you GO DOWN this street, then GO RIGHT when you get to the park. You then GO UP that street until you arrive at the station.”

For more about directions in Enlgish click here 

EXPRESSIONS WITH GO

There are many expressions with GO but today I’m going to focus on some that many of my students have asked me about.

HAVE A GO = Try it

Used to motivated or encourage someone to try something or express something that you would like to try yourself, e.g.

-“It looks so difficult to play the guitar.” – “It’s easier that you think, have a go.” (passing the person the guitar)

-“Sky diving looks really cool, I’d love to have a go one day.”

HOW IS (SOMETHING) GOING =  To ask if something is good/bad or easy/difficult

Used most commonly when talking about jobs, studies, or relationships, e.g.

-“Hey, how’s your new job going?”  -“It’s going really well thanks.”

_” So, how are things going with your new girlfriend?”  -“Not so well”

GO ALL OUT= Use all your effort or creativity to complete something

This is generally used when someone has prepared an event or themselves for an event, e.g.

– “Woah man cool party! you really went all out with the decorations and food.”

-“I’m going to go all out my costume next halloween, I’m already preparing it”

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING= This is logical and you should realize this.

This is used to show the listener that what you are saying is true and logical and everyone should know.

-“It goes without saying that when move to a new country you’re going to have a lot of difficulty with the language.”

-“It goes without saying that if you borrow money you have to payit back.”

For more expressions with the word go click here

CALL TO ACTION

Don’t stop now! After reading this article I’m sure you will have a good idea of how this versatile word is used in English, but are you going to remember them all? Start putting all these uses into practice by writing examples using your personal experiences.

More to come soon on this topic. If you found this article helpful, we greatly appreciate your feedback, participation, likes, sharing and telling your friends about us. If you haven’t already, join the free and open Real Life English Facebook Community. And of course, we hope to see you at our next Real Life English Event!

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11 Comments

  1. Shaun Dowling on January 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Excellent Article Love it. One thing to add though. Go and Come are 'pointing verbs' so nice explanation Indeed. Here is one to add: On the phone do you say to the person who is asking why you haven't left the house., 'I'm coming' or 'I'm going". In Portuguese this last example is different. Your Go and Come would be better if you understand the difference between 'Can I come in?" and "Can I go in? Anyway I enjoyed this lots. Congrats.

  2. Chad Fishwick on January 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Woah… I'd never thought about those examples. I guess I'd say "I'm coming" and "can I come in" because I'm moving in the direction of the speaker. Thanks for bringing up those examples Shaun! We really appreciate any feedback.

  3. Chad Fishwick on January 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Woah… I'd never thought about those examples. I guess I'd say "I'm coming" and "can I come in" because I'm moving in the direction of the speaker. Thanks for bringing up those examples Shaun! We really appreciate any feedback.

  4. Chad Fishwick on January 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Woah… I'd never thought about those examples. I guess I'd say "I'm coming" and "can I come in" because I'm moving in the direction of the speaker. Thanks for bringing up those examples Shaun! We really appreciate any feedback.

  5. Ethan on January 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Great article, Chad! This will be a great resource for teaching my students because I know they often confuse these. I hope that you’ll do some articles as well on the difference between bring/take and borrow/lend

  6. Roger Lima on February 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    In some sitcoms, I’ve noticed that some characters usually say: “I’m coming” when someone call them. Is it right? Shouldn’t it be “I’m going”? Thank you in advance.

    • Justin on February 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      In English, we use coming to mean in the direction of the speaker and not the place. For example, if your mom or wife says “dinner’s ready” and you’re on the other side of the house, you say “I’m coming” (já vou). If you are at home and your friend calls you and invites you to his house, you say “I’ll come over in 10 minutes.” It works like this with Take/Bring too.

  7. Nosirjon Qodirov on April 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

    yeah…excellent expanding we understood very well thank you very much 🙂

  8. Abdulhameed Assayid on May 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Which is correct?
    I go to my work at 8:00 everyday/every day.

    • Justin on May 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      “Everyday” is an adjective. “English is an everyday habit.” I study English every day (adverb of frequency). I hope this helps!

  9. Widian Yuliani on August 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    thank you very much, it really helps me learning better 🙂

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