1

Is there any difference in meaning when people say Come down to see us instead of Come to see us.

Does it still suggest any trace of meaning against Come to see us where this particle is not used?

Are there any register change, for instance, or any other shades of meaning?

I have a non-native speaker's feeling that it adds politness and a tiny bit more formal than come to see us.

Added later: [walking up/down the street is slightly different matter: I think up and down is a case of idiomatization expressing the meaning of one pacing the street going first in one direction, then back.

In my question I deal with particle/no-particle case trying to understand if a particle of its own brings in a meaning as opposed to zero partile. Clearly, one should beleive that a change in the word alters the meaning or should be motivated somehow by a context.]

((Sorry for stirring such an exchange of opinions about one innocent word. It is something that is like a blind spot for me: how can you use or not use something so noticeably visible without a feeling that there is a message behind.))

20
  • come down means the person inviting you lives north of you. Compare: come up and see us (you live to the south of the speaker) Also: come out and see us [in the countryside, leave the city]. This is not related to formality or politeness.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:10
  • Or Come up to see us or Come out to see us or Come in to see us, etc. It would rarely iff ever make any difference whether you included any one of several prepositions in such contexts. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:11
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Walking up/down a level road/street Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:13
  • 2
    English isn't that precise. You can go up or down to see someone without knowing or caring if they live north or south of you, OR at a higher / lower altitude. Same as walking up / down the road. But note that there IS a difference if you walk across the road, whereas it doesn't necessarily imply anything different if you're invited to come across and see someone (nobody necessarily knows or cares what exactly you might "cross" to get to the other place). Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:18
  • 1
    @Lambie: You're just looking for a point you can take issue with. I live south of London, and I certainly wouldn't be likely to say I'm going down to Scotland to visit a friend. But obviously people say "We're going down / up the pub* without taking any notice of relative elevation and/or north/south orientation. You shouldn't be telling learners that they must be "accurate" with such prepositions, when the natives don't take much notice. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:29

1 Answer 1

2

(1) Come down to see us.

May suggest that the travel would be to a place to the south of, or lower in elevation than, the starting point, as the comments by user Lambie suggest. But I would say that usage on that point varies a good deal.

In any case, aside from a possible difference in direction of travel, such forms as:

  • (2) Come over to see us.
  • (3) Come to see us.

have no difference in meaning or register, and all three may be used totally interchangeably if "down" is not ruled out by direction.

11
  • I don't think one can say that usage varies. I'd say a particular speaker might say it or not (not use the down). It is all situational. And for me, it is different than down/up the street/road and even down/up the pub, which, by the way, can be very logical from a speaker's point of view and have meaning. come down and see us or come up and see up or come out and see us implies a long distance. A place you have to travel to by car, bus or train.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:19
  • @Lambie did you consider my example of people in central or western NJ (say around Princeton, where I used to live) commonly saying "down to NY" for travel of 1-2 hours by car or train to the North-east. This was very common usage in that area. In East Lansing when I was in college one often spoke of going "down to Lansing" but the travel was largely to the west, and a bit north. say 30-45 minutes by bus, which was the common method of travel for those I was talking with. Lansing is the state capital and a much larger city. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:33
  • David, I lived in NYC a long time. I believe you when you say it but I must say I find it very weird just like a lot of other stuff in Jersey. People in NY said: I'm going down to the Jersey shore this weekend. And that's south. So, maybe usage does vary...a bit.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:37
  • @Lambie Yes, People in Jersey said "down the shore" also, which was usually WSW or just SW. as for weird local usages, how about "Port of Authority" for the 40th street bus terminal? I think you are expecting more logic in usage where historical accident has a significant effect. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:44
  • I never heard Port of Authority, and I lived very close to the bus station on 44th and 9th. It's just: The Port Authority [of New York and New Jersey].
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 20:48

You must log in to answer this question.

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