GRAMMAR GEEK GUIDE: “Come” vs “Go”

Welcome to Grammar Geek Guide, where I’ll be writing about common grammatical mistakes and Filipinisms (English phrases commonly attributed to Filipinos that may be considered incorrect, poorly constructed, or inappropriate, often as a result of mistranslation).

Before anything else, I’d like to stress that I am neither a teacher nor an English degree holder. In fact, a lot of the grammar stuff I’ll be talking about in these posts are most likely going to be things I’ll be learning for the first time. Here’s hoping that the lessons in these blog posts would prove to be just as helpful to you as they are (or will be) to me.


Today, I’ll be examining… well, just in case the title didn’t already spoil the surprise, this entry’s about two commonly used (and misused) words – come and go. While both of these words pertain to the act of moving from one point to another, they definitely aren’t interchangeable. Of course, that didn’t stop Culture Club from writing that irritatingly catchy song, but whatever.


Sorry, I just had to get it out of my system.

Anyway, moving on.

When to “Come” and When to “Go”

It all boils down to the subject’s point of reference, really. If the subject’s journey from Point A (the point of origin) to Point B (the destination) would take them closer to the speaker’s location, we use come. If the subject’s journey takes them away from the speaker’s location, we use go. Note that I said “speaker’s location” and not “speaker” – this is because the same rules apply when the speaker is the subject.

Here are some examples of the most common ways these two get misused.

I won’t come to the event.

Since the subject (the speaker) is referring to an event that (a) isn’t happening at the speaker’s location or (b) will happen at some point in the future, go should be used instead of come. Of course, the speaker could have avoided being in that tight spot by simply saying “I won’t attend the event,” but that’s just the Mikael way of doing things (“When in doubt, find another way to say it”) and isn’t really recommended if you want to learn things. Boo, me.

I’m about to go down the jeep.

A-ha! Our first (possible) Filipinism. This is probably a direct translation of “Bababa na ako.” See, switching from Filipino to English and vice versa is tricky at times, because a lot of grammatical rules from the two languages don’t really apply both ways, and there are plenty of words from either language that have no direct counterpart in the other. Anyway, in this case, you’re not supposed to use “go” or “come.” Instead, say “I’m about to get off the jeep” or “I’m getting off the jeep” – the proper way to talk about alighting a vehicle.

Why don’t you go ahead? I’ll follow.

This is an incomplete thought (and therefore, an incomplete sentence). To “go ahead” means to “continue” or “proceed,” not necessarily “to go first.” This is most likely an incorrectly translated “Mauna ka na, susunod ako.” When you use the phrase “go ahead,” be sure to include exactly what it is you’ll be doing. For example, “I’ll go ahead and leave,” or “Go ahead – make my day.

Don’t forget to pass by my office later.

“Dumaan ka sa opisina ko mamaya, ha?” is most likely the reason why we say “pass by” when we actually mean “drop by.” Think about it: which of the two options makes more sense if you want the person to physically enter your office and talk to you? The correct way to say this is “Don’t forget to drop by my office later.


Thank you for wasting five minutes on reading today’s Grammar Geek Guide. That’s five minutes that won’t come back to you, haha! Truly, I am a horrible person. More installments coming soon! Please feel free to share your grammar-related thoughts and comments below, or congratulate me for not forcing a Spider-Man reference into this blog post- oops.

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