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Author Topic: Dealing with annoying English grammar errors (17th in a series of 20)  (Read 93 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: January 02, 2018, 12:32:32 AM »

This is the 17th in a series of 20 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until January 5, 2018.

9 – Misuse of the verb-pairs “come” and “go” and of “bring” and “take”

The ninth of the grammar error types that I find most annoying is the misuse of two very commonly used verb-pairs: “come” and “go,” and “bring” and “take.” The problem with these verb-pairs is two-fold: (a) they are highly irregular verbs, and the verbs in each pair denote practically the same action but differ in the direction of the action or motion with respect to the speaker.

It is therefore understandable why young nonnative speakers of English often stumble when using these four verbs, as in these grammatically flawed constructions:

“My friend went here this morning.”
(Correct: “My friend came here this morning.”)  

“I want you to go here right now”
(Correct: “I want you to come here right now.”)

“Please take your books to class tomorrow.”
(Correct: “Please bring your books to class tomorrow.”)

Indeed, mastery of these problematic verbs can take several years of practice, so we really shouldn’t fault young English learners that much for misusing them.

“Come” and “go.” What could be very annoying, however, is the continuing use of these verb-pairs by some college-educated adults well into their professional careers, as in this remark by a TV newscaster misusing “go” instead of “come” while on field coverage:

“The President will go here and is expected anytime now.”
(Of course, it should be: “The President will come here and is expected anytime now.”)

As I had written in my column in The Manila Times after that incident, I initially thought that the misuse was just a slip of the tongue, but the TV newscaster proceeded to use “go here” four or five more times during that same coverage. It then became obvious that although grammar-savvy in most other respects, he was still clueless about the precise usage of “go” and “come.”

So, once and for all, let’s formally review the usage of “come” and “go and of “bring” and “take.”

We should use “come” to describe movement towards where the speaker or listener is:

“Please come here tonight.”
“Some friends are coming tonight for dinner. Can you come, too?”

On the other hand, we should use “go” to describe movement away from where the speaker or listener is:

“From here, please go directly to the park.”
“You missed them. They have already gone home.”

Take note, however, that when we are speaking on the phone or writing snail-mail or e-mail to someone, we should use “come” and not “go” when referring to a movement towards that person or towards his or her residence or home country:

“Hello, Fred, some urgent business detained me in Tokyo, but I’ll be coming home in a day or two.”

Also, it’s more appropriate to use “come with” instead of “go with” when both the speaker and the listener are going to the same place together.

“Would you like to come to the park with me and my friends?”
“I wonder why he didn’t want to come with us.”

“Bring” and “take.” In much the same way as “come” and “go,” the use of “bring” and “take” also depends on the speaker’s or listener’s position or point of view.

We should use “bring” to refer to a movement towards the speaker or listener:

“Please bring your passbook for updating tomorrow.”
“We brought you some books from the library.”

On the other hand, we should use “take” to a movement away from the speaker or listener:

“Let’s take the children to the mall for dinner.”
“Please take the money and go.”

But when the point of reference is not the same as that of the speaker or writer, either “bring” or “take” can be used depending on the context:

“The oppositionists brought their impeachment complaint to the Lower House.”
“The oppositionists took their impeachment complaint to the Lower House.”

The sentence above that uses “brought” describes the action from the oppositionists’ point of view, and the one that uses “took describes the same action from the Lower House’s point of view.

(Next: The annoying problem with fused sentences)      January 5, 2018

This essay, 17th in a series of 20, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the November 18, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 02:11:39 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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