Imagine a son who wants to work as X in the future (an occupation that seems quite odd to others.)

For this reason, the surrounding people and his friends start to mock him or treat him outrageously in an annoying way!

He decides to consult his father and ask him for his opinion about his goal. His father finds nothing wrong with that. He wants to ask his son to pursue his dreams and encourage him to go to the way he likes himself regardless of what others say. I was wondering which option below works grammatically and idiomatically natural in my example:

_________________________. Don't care about what others say.

a. Go your own way.
b. Go to your own way.
c. Go in your own way.

If non of them works in this sense, then I was wondering what should I say?


In idiomatic English one would say

Go your own way

another English phrase meaning the same is

Plough your own furrow

"Go to in your own way" is not used as far as I know, whilst

Go in your own way

This rarely heard, but has the meaning "use the mode of transport you want to", for example go by bicycle possibly when most people would catch a bus. "Go your own way" could also be used with this meaning, depending on context.

  • Excellent answer @Peter Jennings; as you provided me with an alternative, I was wondering if you could let me know about the idiom: "march to the beat of your own drum" as well. Thank you in advance. – A-friend Sep 29 '19 at 9:53
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    "march to the beat of your own drum" means the same, although it is more often used as "march to the beat of another drum" to describe someone who is eccentric or unconventional. There are several other English phrases similar to the original idea, such as "Follow your own path" or in a more religious context "Be faithful unto yourself". – Peter Jennings Sep 29 '19 at 10:39
  • But @Peter Jennings I don't know why I have an intuition that "march to the beat of your own drum" has a connotation of being "inconsiderate". Do you confirm? – A-friend Sep 29 '19 at 11:09
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    Yes, that could be so. It could be interpreted as "Doing what you want regardless of what others are doing". And if it is "your own drum" then it is you that are beating it. All these sayings (both in my answer and other suggestions) express the same general idea, but they may have subtly different emphasis in meaning where and when they are used. As Ben says in his answer "Go your own way" can have negative connotations as well as positive. – Peter Jennings Sep 29 '19 at 12:57

Go your own way is perfect. You can find thousands of examples of how people use it in English on Google Books. There is even a well-known song by Fleetwood Mac called "Go Your Own Way".

Below is some explanation of why "Go your own way" is correct and the others are wrong or not as good.

"Go your own way"

In that sentence, "your own way" serves as an adverb modifying "go". The same kind of phrase used as an adverb appears in sentences like:

Do it your way.

Google Books has thousands of examples of that, too. There is even a famous song by Frank Sinatra titled "I Did It My Way". (It's probably his most famous song.)

"Go to _____"

When you say "Go to _____," normally after "to" we expect a noun that names the destination. Here are some examples:

Go to your room. [This is what parents say to their children when they are misbehaving. It means that the child should go to his or her bedroom, away from the family activity that he or she was disturbing.]

If you commit a crime, you might go to jail.

"Go in your own way"

Go in your own way is correct, but not as strong. The preposition in can introduce almost anything to serve as an adverbial phrase, whereas "your way", "my way", "her way", "that way", etc. are somewhat special noun phrases that can serve as an adverb without a preposition.

Go your own way echoes familiar songs and phrases that excite emotions and evoke deep elements of the individualistic culture of America. Go in your own way does not.

Some complexity that you should understand

You should know that "Go your own way" is not necessarily positive. It can emphasize being alone and therefore unaided by other people. In the Fleetwood Mac song, it refers to breaking up a romantic relationship. The full sentence in that song is "You can go your own way", which in that context means "I don't want to be your boyfriend/girlfriend anymore." Even this isn't completely negative, though. "Go your own way" rather than, say, "Go to Hell", suggests that each person has a separate path in life, which each should follow, and continuing to stay together would prevent that.

Trying to learn the full meaning of these phrases from simple, abstract definitions will only mislead you. To really understand "your way" in the context of the father encouraging the son, you should listen to the whole Frank Sinatra song and read the words. The meaning is complex but is well expressed in the song: when you go your own way, you struggle more, you're defeated more, and you need more courage than when you follow the crowd, but the journey is more fulfilling—or at least this belief is held deep in the American worldview, even by the many Americans who follow the crowd.


In addition to the existing answers: whilst "go your own way" is the correct answer, I don't feel it is strictly an idiom as in word or phrase the meaning of which is not deducible from context. "Go" + direction, without a preposition, is common natural usage and "go your own way" is exactly analogous to "go up", "go down", "go left", "go right", "go this way", "go that way", "go the other way" etc.


Follow your own path.

March to the beat of your own drum.

  • But @RonJohn I think "March to the beat of your own drum" has a strongly negative connotation! Because it implies being "inattentive" or "reckless" or "inconsiderate". – A-friend Sep 29 '19 at 19:21
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    @A-friend that is definitely not true in American English. – RonJohn Sep 29 '19 at 19:31
  • But why dictionary says something else: idioms.thefreedictionary.com/march+to+the+beat+of+your+own+drum. I am a bit confused in this regard. – A-friend Sep 29 '19 at 19:57
  • @A-friend and the first usage example is... "My brother's eschewed the idea of a full-time career and has had every oddball job you could think of, but then he's always been happy marching to the beat of his own drum." Very similar to your question, and zero to do with being "inattentive" or "reckless" or "inconsiderate". – RonJohn Sep 29 '19 at 21:05
  • @A-friend I agree with RonJohn. Connotations are too subtle for short dictionary definitions. If you post a new question, asking whether the connotations of "march to the beat of a different drum", I will show you the main elements of culture that it refers to so you can better understand its connotations yourself. – Ben Kovitz Sep 29 '19 at 21:34

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