Going and Coming

Once I was talking with one of my English students about how we use the words "come" and "go" in English.  Our conversation brought up some really interesting points about these words.

If you were to invite someone out to watch a movie, how would you ask?  A few possible ways to ask are:

Do you want to come see a movie with me? 

Do you want to go watch a movie?

Do you want to watch a movie?

All of these would be correct, but in different situations. 

come (do something)

The first question ("Do you want to come see a movie with me?") suggests that you are going out to see a movie regardless of the answer; perhaps you've been planning on going to watch something for several days. If the other person says "Yes" you'll go together. Otherwise, you'll go alone or with someone else.

So you can think of this question as "Do you want to come (to the place where I'm going and) see a movie with me?"

go (do something)

The second question ("Do you want to go watch a movie?") suggests that the other person's answer will decide whether you go or don't go. 

This is a better choice if you've already planned to spend some time with this person; the question is what the activity will be - movie, dinner, bowling?

You could also ask this to invite someone out on a date.

Think about this question as "Do you want to go (to the place together with me and) watch a movie?"

(do something)

The third question ("Do you want to watch a movie?") is more simple and direct than the others.

It asks a simple question - whether the listener desires to watch a movie or not - so it can be interpreted in more different ways. Because it's more general, it's usually not the first choice for asking someone out.

Also, notice that this question doesn't involve either "going" or "coming", so it could also mean "Do you want to watch a movie (at home on my TV)?" as well.

What if you're in different places?

All of these explanations assume that you're talking to someone face-to-face. If you're talking to someone on the telephone, the meaning of "come" changes.

In that case, "come" might also mean "move to where I am". So imagine that I call my friend and he asks, "Do you want to come see a movie with me?" It might mean "Do you want to come (to my house)?" or "Do you want to come (to the movie theater I'm at)?"

  Print this Article

Phrasemix App Download Phrasemix App Download