Ok, this website says "Come is used to show movement toward the speaker or the person being spoken to"

& "Go is used to show movement away from the speaker or the person being spoken to"

Let say Tom is in his office & his mom is at home.

It's 5 PM & Tom says to his peers in his office "I go home now". The movement is away from the speaker "Tom" & the listeners "his peers".

Now, we can have 1 conversation when his mom calls to him:

Conversation 1:

Mom: Can you come home soon? (we use "come" because the movement is toward the speaker "Mom")

Tom: I come home soon. (we use "come" because the movement is toward the listener "Mom")

Conversation 2:

Mom: Can you go home soon? (we use "go" because the movement is away from the listener "Tom")

Tom: I go home soon. (we use "go" because the movement is away from the speaker "Tom")

You can say the Conversation 2 is wrong but I do apply the above guideline when creating the conversation 2.

Then the question is that the above guideline could have some shortcomings.

  • 1
    How I as a native speaker understand them: In conversation 1, Mom is at home (or expects to be at home when Tom gets there). In conversation 2, either Mom is not at home, or Mom is telling Tom to go to Tom's home, which is not the same as Mom's home. – Hellion Jul 21 '16 at 18:32

Like so often, someone has created a "rule" to make things easier, but they only succeeded in making things more complicated.

One could adapt the "rule" to "when the distance between the speaker and listener will get smaller, use come. Otherwise use go".

In general, you go away and you come towards something.

Tom tells his colleagues he's going home, he is leaving the office.

In the conversation between his mom and Tom, assuming mom's at home, Tom's movement towards home means they will get closer, so he's coming towards her, coming home. It doesn't matter who starts the conversation.

  • Do you have any referenced source that backs your answer? or is this intuitive because your're native? – Tom Jul 21 '16 at 15:52
  • I'm near-native, and yes, the answer is based on intuition. Furthermore, in my mother tongue the exact same distinction between coming and going exists, with identical usage. – oerkelens Jul 21 '16 at 18:14

We always go when we travel. But as speakers, we often put ourselves in the listener's position. Those to whom we are going see us as coming to them. Those from whom we are going see us as going from them. Those who see us going somewhere which has nothing to do with them, see us as going somewhere.

Are you coming home soon?

would not make sense if Harry Potter asked that question of Hermione Granger, when they were both at school. Hermione goes home at school break.

Harry would ask Hermione

Are you going home soon?

But Ron Weasely could write a note and give it to his owl to take to Ron's mum:

I am not coming home. I am taking a trip with Harry. Your son, Ron.

Ron is putting himself in his mum's position, and describing his homecoming as she would perceive it from her perspective there at home.

But Ron would say to one of his classmates there at school:

I am not going home. Harry and I are going to Beauxbaton.

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