I'm trying to explain the difference between "go to" and "go" and I'm not sure what the actual rule is. I've tried searching about it, but I couldn't find anything.

When should I use "go to" and when should I use "go?" For example, I should say "Let's go home" but not "Let's go to home." On the flip side, "Let's go to your house," but not "Let's go your house."

Can someone help me with the rule behind this?

  • Home is about the only one that doesn't need to, but there is a small set of locative words that don't need determiners (the, a, his, some, most): go to -∅- work/school/church/college/university (in the UK, also hospital), but go to my job/the store/a play/Bill's party Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 20:36
  • In this example, home is an adverb. One doesn't go to adverbs.
    – Anonym
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 20:49
  • @user61979 According to John Lawler, 'It's an adverbial prepositional phrase that has been stripped of its prepositions and determiners, leaving only a naked noun to stand for the whole phrase. [(]That's how a noun can be used as an adverb.[)]' Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 20:55
  • You can also go halves, go places, go yesterday, go today, go tomorrow, go bananas, go commando, go scat, go hippie, go country, go native, go stag, go bush, go ape, go fishing, go walkabout, go bust, go all the way, or go eyes wide open. Well, or go Dutch, but that doesn’t quite count.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 21:55
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Why is this sentence wrong? "He went to home." Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 11:37

3 Answers 3

  • Go to can't be used with:
    1. home
    2. downtown
    3. west / east / north / south
    4. outside / inside
    5. there / back
  • Go to is used with noun, that means uncommon places (not the cinema, not a restaurant...):
    go to school / university 
    go to prison / church
    got to work / bed
  • Go on is used with places related to holidays:
    1. vacation / honeymoon
    2. trip / cruise
  • Go for a is used с noun related to activities:
    go for a swim / run / walk 
    go for a beer / massage
  • Go + verb:
    1. Let's go eat.
    2. I need to go wash my car.
    3. Go clean your room!
  • Go + gerund: When we are talking about hobbies or entertaining activities.
    go hiking
    go shopping
    going swimming
    went sightseeing
  • "Go on " is used for more than holidays. "Let's go on a a gruelling 25 mile assault course." I think "go to" is used for nouns that are places or static events ("go to a wedding") and "go on" for nouns that are travels in some sense. Also you do "go to" a cinema. Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 13:29
  • Thank you for your additions.
    – Qwendr Jo
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 15:56

What do you notice that is different between your examples?

Let's go home.

Let's go to your house.

Allow me to give a different example:

Let's go to your home.

Are you seeing it? It's the possessive your. What happens when you throw that possessive in? Home goes from being an adverb (modifying go), to a noun which forms a part of an adverbial prepositional phrase. (I don't believe it fits the definition of the indirect object the going is not happening to the house, but rather toward it. Perhaps I'm wrong here.)

Home is a rare word that forms an adverb in this form.

On its own, your home isn't typically used as an adverbial phrase to modify go. Instead we make it part of the prepositional phrase to your home because it explains the action of going.

  • He can’t hear you. You can only reach his inbox if you name him in a comment chain that he himself is already part of, or which is affixed to one of his own postings. So you could only ask him in the original question’s chain, in this case.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 2:36
  • @tchrist Gotcha. Thanks. I was sort of hoping he was going to read down after his comment, anyway.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 3:19

Some special cases:

  • go home
  • go here
  • go there

Use go with directions

  • go in/inside
  • go up
  • go aft
  • go downtown1

Use go to with places or static events

  • go to school
  • go to the cinema
  • go to a wedding

The question of when you use the definite/indefinite/no article is separate and covered in other questions.

Use go on with journeys

  • go on a cruise
  • go on a hike
  • go on an expedition
  • go on a vacation

There are other questions covering whether you go on or in modes of transport, and other combinations with "go".


  1. "Downtown" and similar can be both places and directions, so you "go downtown" but you "go to downtown New York"

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