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I read in a book that the following sentences involving 'come' and 'go' have different connotations.

  1. Are you coming to the party tonight?
  2. Are you going to the party tonight?

I learned when you use 'come', you are approaching your goal, whereas 'go' makes you go away from where you are. So No.1 sentence is used when you also attend the party and you are asking whether he/she also attends the party with you. And No.2 sentence is used when you want to ask if he/she attends the party and it doesn't matter whether you attend or not. That shows using 'come' shows a little more kindness to him/her than 'go'.

That's what I learned at school. Is the usage above understandable?

  • I think that's fairly accurate. "Are you coming?" implies the speaker will be there, while "Are you going?" doesn't make that implication. As a note, if the speaker were the host or organizer of the party, they would always use the "Are you coming?" construction. – PMV Dec 20 '16 at 0:50
  • I agree with PMV but I think that it's worth noting that the implication of kindness mentioned towards the end isn't really there, that I'm aware of. It's really all about whether the speaker is going (or is the host) or not. – Catija Dec 20 '16 at 0:53
  • @Catija I agree with Catija. The degree of politeness and familiarity would be inferred by how you ask the question. "Will you be coming to my party?" v. "Are you coming to my party?" Meanwhile, I agree with both Catija and PMV that your understanding is otherwise correct. – Teacher KSHuang Dec 20 '16 at 8:48
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The English use of come and go is a little different from other languages. In English you first establish a point of view and evaluate direction from there. So, for example, if I imagine I am already at the party, I would say:

Are you coming to the party tonight?

However if I am at home, I would instead say:

Are you going to the party tonight?

This can get complicated if we include another person in the sentence. In this case you can consider the point of view of that person:

Sharon asks if we are coming to her party tonight.

or

Sharon would like to go to the party with us tonight.

All of this is separate from your question of inclusion or kindness. Either way can be inclusive or kind, since that depends a more on other factors like context, intonation, permission, etc.

Please, I really would like for you to go to the party with me (inclusive and polite)

Hey, let me come to the party with you. (exclusive -- since I've been previous excluded -- and less polite)

1

There is one party and three people: 1) the host, 2) a friend, and 3) you.

You might ask your friend

Are going to the party?

to see if they will attend the party, without further context it might be assumed you are still making up your mind whether or not to go.

The host may ask you

Are you coming to the party?

to see if you will attend.

If your friend asks you

Are you coming to the party?

it can be assumed they will be going to the party. If you say "yes", you may or may not be going to the party with your friend but getting there on your own. If you are traveling together with them, one might say

Do you want to go together with us? (AmE)
Do you want to come with? (BrE)

In English, these may not have the same meaning of "togetherness" as ikimasho in Japanese, but doing things together is usually always fun!

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