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The previous sentence often sets the central location and we use "go" if the movement is away from the central location and "come" the movement is towards the central location.

Say, "Bob was at home watching TV. Then, 10 minutes later, he went to the supermarket" (paragraph 1). We use "go" because the movement is away from "Bob's house".

But, "Bob was at home watching TV. Then, 10 minutes later, his friend - Mike- came to Bob." (paragraph 2). We use "come" because the movement is towards "Bob's house".

The central location in the paragraph 1 and 2 is "Bob's house"

Now, see this paragraph 3 "Bob was at home watching TV. Mike was at the shopping center. After playing there for 30 minutes, Mike went/came to Bob" .

I am not sure how to identify the central location in paragraph 3.

Is that "Bob's house" or "the shopping center"?

If it is "Bob's house" then we say "Bob was at home watching TV. Mike was at the shopping center. After playing there for 30 minutes, Mike came to Bob"

If it is "the shopping center" then we say "Bob was at home watching TV. Mike was at the shopping center. After playing there for 30 minutes, Mike went to Bob"

This is the answer from ChatGPT

Both sentences are grammatically correct and convey the same meaning. However, "went to Bob" implies that Bob was somewhere else before Mike arrived, while "came to Bob" implies that Bob was already at home. So, depending on the context, one sentence may be more appropriate than the other.

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    I would never rely on ChatGPT for anything. It will sound just as authoritative spouting utter garbage as it will a correct answer. It is not designed to give correct answers, but to 'sound like a human wrote it' (which it fails at too) :P It has a style that quickly becomes in itself recognisable and an answer strategy which could at best be considered as 'hedging your bets' or 'politician speak'. [If you ever want a good education in that form of speech, be sure to watch old episodes of "Yes, Minister" from the BBC.] Apr 23, 2023 at 17:29
  • I don't grok the downvote on this. It's a rational approach to a tough subject. Apr 23, 2023 at 19:07

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I like that you have a basic understanding of the whole who was where at what time, from whose viewpoint; which indicates "direction".
That's a tough one to grasp.

I'd say, for your third example, that the "direction" from the reader/audience perspective is viewed 'at a remote'. We are not in either location at the beginning or end of the movement. It is a reported act, not one character speaking from their own viewpoint.

In that case, I'd use 'went'.

I'd also say '…went to Bob's [house]' rather than 'to Bob'. Even if they hug when they meet, it's really a place not a person that Mike is actually journeying towards. 'House' is optional. To a native, it would be implied & not necessarily need to be stated explicitly.

If one character was speaking or even in a book written in 3rd person, we might change our 'direction' depending on whose perspective we were being shown the entire sequence from.
From Bob's perspective, Mike came to his house. From Mike's, he went to Bob's.

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  • I agree that went to Bob is odd. Another option, besides went to Bob's house, is went to see Bob. Apr 23, 2023 at 21:05

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