I’ve found this sentence in a book:

I told my friend in New York, if you ever get out to California, please visit me.

I have found an explanation: "if you come here, a place that is in a western part of where you are."

Is it right?

Is it considered a phrasal verb, or is this just an American expression?

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    What part are you having trouble understanding? The alternate phrasing you have isn't quite right, but it's not clear exactly how it corresponds to the original. You may want to visit English Language Learners, by the way. Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 7:54
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    By the way, the passage means: “I asked my friend to visit me if he ever travels from his home in New York to my part of the country, which is in California.” There's no idioms there that I can see, just straightforward language, which is why I recommend ELL rather than ELU. Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 8:01
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    @BraddSzonye I think the OP may be wondering why the writer talks of going 'out' to California. We in Britain might talk of going'out' to Australia, or 'out' to the Far East, but we would perhaps be less likely to speak of going 'out' to France or Germany. I think there are certain places to which one is more inclined to go 'out'.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 8:04
  • Yeah I suspect that's the troublesome part too, but it's so garbled that I can't really tell. The OP probably needs help more of the kind that ELL can give. Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 8:11
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    I agree with WS2. There is a tendency to think of those locations away from the perceived centre of the universe as being 'out'. So we have 'out of town', 'out in the country', 'out in the wilds', and 'the outback'. With countries (and, apparently, states), it seems to depend on 'how far "out" ' they are. Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 8:45

1 Answer 1


As noted in the comments, "going out" to a place means going somewhere that is thought of as "away from the perceived centre of the universe," as Edwin Ashworth expressed it. To "get out" to such a place means to get there.

One could replace, "if you ever get out to California..." with, "if you ever make it to California...", or "if you ever are in California...", although the latter omits the allusion to the idea that California is a place one "gets out to," because it's somehow a far off place.

So, the closer the person being invited to visit is to California, the less likely it is that the invitation would include "get out to." Since the friend being invited is from New York, the use of "get out to" is particularly apt. However, if the invitation began, “I told my friend in Oregon", one would expect to see something like, "if you ever get down to California...", since California is South of Oregon.

If talking to someone from Nevada, a state bordering California, the invitation probably wouldn't include "get out to." Instead it might be, "If you ever get over to California."

Depending on the proximity or lack thereof, the "get to California" part would be expressed variously to reflect the perceived spatial relationship.

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