'come' or 'go'? 'bring' or 'take'?

Joo from Korea writes:

Hi. I've been learning English in Australia for 5 months. I've been having a hard time because English syntax is so different from Korean. Some of the meanings of words too.

Especially go and come. For example:

  • Do you want to come with me to Tom's party?

In Korean it would be: Do you want to go with me to Tom's party?

Please explain to me how to use go and come in the correct way.

Andrzej Macalik from Poland writes:

I've got a problem with go back, come back and return, because in my opinion - (only?) - they are the same!


Roger Woodham replies:

Whether we use go or come all has to do with perspective and position.


We use go to describe movement away from the place or position where the speaker or hearer is:

  • Are you going to the pub tonight?
  • Let's go and see Auntie Mary before the holiday is over.
  • They've gone to live in Australia and I don't think they'll ever come back.


We use come to describe movement to the place where the speaker or hearer is:

  • Could you come here for a minute, please, Diane?
    ~ I'm coming.
  • We've come to ask you if we can borrow your car for a week.
  • I've got some people coming for a meal tonight. Can you and Henry come too?

go back, come back, return

The same rule applies with go back and come back, Andrzej, but you can use return for both come back and go back:

  • You must have come back / returned very late last night.
    I didn't hear you come in.
  • He went back / returned to Mexico when he had finished post-graduate training.

Note, however, that come with and not go with is normally used when we are talking about joining a movement of the speaker or hearer, even though the movement is away from their current place or position:

  • I'm going to the hospital this afternoon to get the test results. Could you come with me?
  • We're going to Egypt for a week at Christmas . Would you like to come with us?

bring or take?

Note that the difference in use between bring and take is similar to that between come and go. We use take to describe movement away from the position of the speaker/hearer and bring to describe movement to the place where the speaker/hearer is, was or will be:

  • Can you take the car in for its service tomorrow, Jan? I’m going to take the train.
  • They’re not here. He must have taken them to the club. He’s taken my umbrella too.
  • These shirts that I bought don’t really fit me. I‘m going to have to take them back.


  • It’s kind of you to invite me to supper. Is it all right if I bring my boyfriend?
  • Always remember to bring your calculators when you come to these maths lessons!
  • I’ve brought you some beans and tomatoes from my garden. I hope you can use them.