When someone is away from you and wants to be where you are, do they tell you I want to come there or I want to go there?

4 Answers 4


I have always thought that go has a slight connotational leaning to describing the journey, or leaving the origin. Come has a connotation to arriving, or the destination.

Thus, "I want to go to Paris" states that I want to make a journey, with Paris as the destination, but that the journey is important.

"I want to come to Rome" implies that the arrival in Rome is for a specific reason that is personally, emotionally important to the speaker.

Moreover, coming to Rome, as opposed to going to Paris, seems to imply that the speaker is addressing someone who is in Rome, and will be coming to them or going to Paris.

I believe that both choices are grammatically valid, but that each has a slightly different meaning invested in it.

  • Actually, go doesn't have the connotation of leaving the origin, and come the connotation of arriving to the destination. Compare Jennifer went home with Jennifer came home, or Jessica came into the kitchen with Jessica went into the kitchen. None of the sentences speaks of where the person was before moving; they all say where the person arrived. The difference between come and go is another one.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 10:20
  • 1
    @kiamlaluno I disagree - Jennifer went home is closer than Jennifer came home to Jennifer left. I agree with Carmi's sense that go has a "slight connotation" with the departure and come, with the arrival.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 11:01
  • @Lawrence In both the sentences it's implicit that Jennifer moved from a place, or it would not be travelling. There is something else that makes the difference between Jennifer went home and Jennifer came home.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 11:58

Generally, when speaking with a person that is away from you, I want to come there would be understood as I want to travel and arrive where you are.

I want to go there could mean I want to go in the place we are talking of.

  • 'I want to come there' is correct because it references the location of the person being addressed. Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 13:38

The most common/natural expression here is probably along the lines of:

I wish I were there.

(Okay, so many people don't bother to use the subjunctive - as you should - and say was instead of were.)

A possible alternative is I want to be there - it's slightly less natural sounding to me though, at least in British English.

I want to go there. might be an appropriate response if someone mentioned a foreign country/holiday destination that sounded appealing to you. I can't think of any real-word situation in which I want to come there. would sound best.

  • 2
    "I wish I were there" is expressing a wish for having been there now. It's not equivalent to "I want to come/go there". (As in: "Will you be in Vienna another two months? I want to come there in the summer.") Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 3:08
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    Or even "That place you're describing sounds wonderful! I want to buy tickets and come there right now". In both examples, the OP is asking whether "go" would be right in place of "come". Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 3:35
  • "That place you're describing sounds wonderful!" would be quite unnatural in (British) English - a bit convoluted. Otherwise, yeah. I just thought I'd point out alternative contexts in which it makes more sense. :)
    – Noldorin
    Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 15:30
  • I want to go there doesn't necessarily mean I am talking of a foreign country. I could be speaking of an event happening in my country with a person living in the same building I live, and say I want to go there to mean I want to go to the event we are speaking of. When speaking to a person that doesn't live where I live, I want to come there could mean I want to travel and arrive where you are.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 9:52

I would have to say that there is a fairly simple and straightforward rule to this confusion. If you are presently at the location, then use "come" (as in: While sitting at a cafe in Rome drinking espresso "I would love to come back next year." or alternatively, "Excuse me, can you come over here"). But, if you are not presently at the location, to use "go" (as in: "Will you go over there." or "Hawai'i? I would love to go there.").

  • 3
    That’s all well and good as a first approximation, but your rule doesn’t take into account the possibility that you are talking to somebody who is not located where you are, and you are discussing travel to the other person’s location. For example (phoning home from the office): “Sorry I had to work late; I’m coming home now.” Or (e.g., when rescuing an injured person): “Stay where you are; I’ll come to you.” Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 18:55