When should one use the word "coming" vs. "going"?

For example, is it "I'm coming home." or "I'm going home."? (Ehhh maybe that was a bad example). "Are you coming?" vs. "Are you going?" may be a better example.

I always get confused by this expression but most people I notice use the word "coming".


Coming is from the viewpoint of the destination.

You might say to your colleagues "I'm going home" then phone your partner and, if they are already there, say "I'm coming home".

While you are home you might say "I came home", though you could also say "I went home" positioning your speech relative to where you were at the time you set out on your journey.

In the imperative, you can ask someone to come to where you currently are, "please come home". You can use either come in terms of where you will also be later, "come to the club with me", though you can also use go to ask them to join you in your act of going, "go to the club with me".


Taking the going home vs coming home example...

I'd probably use going if I were to inform someone who is NOT at the new, intended destination (home, in this case) that I would be starting from my present location and moving towards home (the new destination).

And I'd use coming if I were to be informing someone who is already at the intended destination (home) that I would be starting from my present location and moving towards the intended destination (home) where the person I'm speaking to is already present, as I mentioned.

(I hope I was clear in my explaination... this is my first time!)


Strictly, now.

Going: moving from your location to somewhere

Coming: moving from somewhere to your location

  • Except that the viewpoint of that movement matters, as Jon explains. You fix the viewpoint at "your location" whereas it ain't necessarily so. – Andrew Leach May 21 '16 at 7:57

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