Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

Are you coming or going?

with 3 comments

I have a favorite childhood memory where I don’t remember the details, but I’ve always recalled the lesson. My dad and I were standing in front of the movie theater box office. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. My sisters and my mom were at the parking lot across the street. I raised my voice and waved to them so they could see us in the crowd.

“Go here!” I said.

My dad said to me, “That’s not right. It’s ‘come here.’ They’re over there and they have to come here. Or you go there.”

I was embarrassed that I had shouted some bad grammar for people around to hear.

“Come here!” I called out. (I must’ve always liked to edit myself.)

And from that simple exchange, somehow my dad burned in my mind that the point of reference for using these two verbs is yourself. Others come toward you, whether they cross a physical distance or decide to join you or your group. Conversely, you go to them.

Are you coming with us as we go to the movie?

Written by wellaontheweb

2006 Sep 9 at 03:26

Posted in grammar

3 Responses

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  1. An interesting point-there’s certainly more to ‘coming’ and ‘going’ than meets the eye. Other languages handle it differently; in Thai, for example, you have to say ‘Are you going with me?’. Back to English, though, if I was calling a sick friend or wanted to drop in on my boss I would ask ‘Can I come and see you?’ but talking about it later, I would say ‘I went to see him’. Maybe this is British English, though.

    tomeemayeepa

    2006 Sep 13 at 10:10

  2. Good point, but I was talking only about coming/going to/from a place (or state of mind).

    It’s very common to say “Can I come over?” implying you are in one location (your office)and talking to someone (your boss) about going to their location (his office).

    To my ear, it would sound a little strange to say, “Can I go there?” to your boss. Sounds like you’re asking for permission with high doubt of being approved. It’s grammatically correct, but we don’t say that to someone we’re familiar with.

    “Come over” means something very specific by combining a verb with a preposition. Take the verb and combine with different prepositions to get different meanings.

    come up – could mean going upstairs, or generating intangibles such as ideas or excuses when used with “with”
    come in – to enter
    come on – expression with multiple meanings depending on delivery and context, “Oh, c’mon!”
    come at – to approach
    come over – to visit
    come out – to publicly declare oneself a homosexual
    come under – to not meet a quota or threshold
    come down – to recover from an episode of drug use

    At least, the above list of [“come” + preposition] means those things here in the U.S. :-)

    wellaontheweb

    2006 Sep 13 at 17:32

  3. At the Super Bowl, a comment about the Vince Lombardi trophy “coming home” to Green Bay. Is this correct?

    Thank you

    Gemma Morris

    2011 Feb 8 at 14:57


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