Note: This post is discussing verbs, the following scenario is to add background for discussion.

Let's say we are discussing the usage of adverbs.

I always wake up early

he never gets angry

we could say

always and never go in the mid position before the verb

we could also say

always and never come in the mid position before the verb

Is my understanding right?

Although I got this sense, I don't know the rules clearly, in what situations, "come" and "go" are interchangeable.

1 Answer 1


Come and go, "intransitive verbs of motion" (in the words of the OED) come to us from Old English and thus have had over a millennium to develop a wide range of meaning and idiomatic usage. The OED catalogs about 70 major categories of meaning for come and over 90 for go. One basic difference between the two is that come signifies motion toward the speaker:

Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you

and go signifies either general motion or motion away from the speaker:

Go away!

with "toward" and "away" having either literal of metaphorical meaning. I haven't done an exhaustive study, but I'd venture a guess that the two words are rarely interchangeable. In the first sentence of this answer, the word come means having a traceable forebearer in an ancestral or contributory language. Go may not be substituted:

* The word goes to us from Old English.

In your example

always and never go in the mid position before the verb

go means properly appear, and come may not be substituted.

Idiomatic usages are not interchangeable: you can "go crazy" (meaning descend into insanity) but not "come crazy," and you can "come to understand" (meaning gradually gain knowledge) but not "go to understand".

Likewise idiomatic expressions with prepositions are not interchangeable. For instance you can "come into money" (meaning inherit money), but not "go into money." On the other hand, you an "go into a subject" (meaning discuss the subject in detail), but not "come into a subject.

  • Thanks for your answer. Does OED stand for Oxford English Dictionary?
    – brennn
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 2:23
  • Yes. I should have noted that I'm using the original printed edition. I didn't check the supplements for later tallies. And I don't have a subscription to the online version.
    – user105719
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 2:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .