What are the differences between

He has gone over to London.


He has gone to London.

I don't understand the differences these two sentences have.

Why in the first sentence is the word "over" used while in the other sentence it's not?


4 Answers 4


It's a marker of informal speech that carries very little other meaning.

The very little meaning that the speaker/writer might intend is that the trip will take an unusual amount if time, either due to an unusually long stay or the distance to get there.

That difference in meaning is not certain though. It's vague and imprecise, which is part of why it's informal, and rarely is it deliberately chose—much more often it's said because it "feels" right. Whatever it might mean, it's a subtle enough implication that if the difference matters, the speaker or the listener should give or ask for more information:

"He has gone over to London."
"Oh, for how long?"

  • 3
    I don't think "over" carries any special meaning with respect to time. It conveys a notion of relative position. If one thinks of the destination as being "over there" then one gets there by going over to it. This might especially be the case when the destination is over a bridge, over the hills, over the ocean, or even, I suppose, over the road (as in a car travels over the road).
    – Jim
    Aug 7, 2014 at 22:01
  • @Jim That's true of down*/*up and in*/*out, but never over*/*under. "He went over to Bill's desk" is correct when Bill's desk is on the same level. If you take the Tunnel to London from Paris, you never say "I went under to London last weekend" and over is still acceptable. Aug 7, 2014 at 22:25
  • Compare "Bill came over (here) yesterday" with "Bill came here yesterday", when Bill lives mere feet away in the next apartment. The first communicates a visit of some length, the second doesn't. Aug 7, 2014 at 22:33
  • yes, because you still think of Bill's desk and London as being not here, but "over there" And I still see no connection with time. Bill came over here just long enough to hand me this letter. Did Sue come here yesterday? Yes, she was here all day.
    – Jim
    Aug 7, 2014 at 22:56
  • 1
    I think you've done a good job taking a stab at this, but it's tricky to pin down. In addition to a long time, it could also be used to hint at a long distance. Someone in the U.S. might "go to Chicago" one week, and then "go over to London" the next. Sure, one could use "over" in the first case, and omit it in the second, but it might seem a bit more natural to use "over" when referring to the intercontinental travel.
    – J.R.
    Aug 8, 2014 at 0:55

This is probably not what is meant here, but one possible meaning of go over is to change one's allegiance. So, for instance, if the person being spoken of were a Russian spy, then He has gone to London would simply mean that he has traveled there for some reason, but He has gone over to London would suggest that he has defected.


I think people would only use the first sentence if "he" wasn't in England in the first place, and he went over the English channel (or possibly across the Atlantic Ocean) to London.

I've checked a sample of instances of "gone over to London" from Google books (there are very few in total), and the people who went over all started out from places other than England and Scotland. You can find a number from America, and others from Italy, Holland, and Ireland.


You generally use Gone over when you are going to someones house. For eg. I had gone over to Tom's place for borrowing a few books.

If you ware saying you went to a city, its correct usage would be - I had gone to London.

You dont use the OVER when you talk of cities.

  • That may not be used as city. It can also be used as an area, a land at somewhere. Aug 7, 2014 at 13:10
  • Agreed. I would still say that a place like A city/area/street will not use Over . Its only used when you are talking about going to someone's house.
    – geekyjazzy
    Aug 7, 2014 at 14:12
  • If you were in France, and talking about somebody who went to London, you could use over because they crossed the English channel. Apr 28, 2016 at 12:33

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