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As a non-native speaker, I cannot grasp any difference between the expressions "here we go" and "there we go": both expressions seem to underline an event that is going to happen immediately.

Is there any subtle usage detail that I am missing?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

J.R. mentioned a distinction that applies in some cases and noted that because of the wide range of uses of the two phrases, there might not be a “universal way to differentiate when one should be used instead of the other”.

Another distinction (similar in that it applies in some cases but far from all) is that “Here we go” is frequently inclusive of the speaker, and “There we go” frequently is not. A very few of the examples of “Here we go” and “There we go” found in A Collection of Confusible Phrases by Yuri Dolgopolov illustrate this: snip from Yuri's book

Another distinction is that “here we go” is found 10 times more commonly (in Google Books English-language corpus) than is “there we go”, and many instances of the latter are irrelevancies like “From there we go to Spain”.

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Thanks for your explanation. By reading the excerpt that you have attached, it seems that "here goes" has a meaning similar to "here we go". Can we say the same thing for "there goes" and "there you go" (at least in meaning 1.)? –  Marco Leogrande Sep 17 '12 at 5:47
    
@Marco, I'd say no; in the example for item 1 under there you go, the meaning is like “you see how it is” or “such is life”, while putting there goes into the example would give an unmeaning result. –  jwpat7 Sep 17 '12 at 6:14
    
+1 for introducing me to Dolgopolov's book; it looks very nice. –  Nate Eldredge Sep 20 '12 at 2:26

Here we go; I'll take a stab at this:

Here we go is used more when an event is about to take place, while there we go is used more after the event has already started. There we go also seems to carry the connotation that everything is going well so far.

That said, both of these expressions can be used in a wide variety of contexts, so I'm not sure there's any universal way to differentiate when one should be used instead of the other in all situations.

There you go, I hope that helps.

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Thanks for your answer. Since you say that there we go in generally used in a positive context, which expression would you use ex post to give a negative spin to the sentence? –  Marco Leogrande Sep 17 '12 at 5:43
    
One way you can use these expressions negatively is to say here we go again, as a term of exasperation. Similarly, one might say there you go again, in the context of, say, a debate or argument: "There you go again, bringing up that same issue you did before." I'd never given it much previous thought, but it's rather odd how "here we go" has a generally positive tone, but "here we go again" has a generally negative one. Interesting. –  J.R. Sep 17 '12 at 7:55

I think both indicate a waited upon event is occurring, but "There we go" implies a dismissal while "Here we go" does not.

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