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I just like to ask for some clarifications on the use of 'come' and 'go' for the following situations:

Situation 1 :

Paul: Are you coming to John's birthday party this Saturday? Arthur: No, I'm not going. My family will be out of town.

  • Do we use 'coming' in general like for situations that are happening occasionally like a birthday? But when the party is every Saturday do we use 'going' instead?
  • In which case, if one cannot make it to the birthday party, it is correct to use 'going' but if its a regular party night out, we would likely use 'coming'?

Situation 2 : Paul cannot make it to John's party

Paul : Are you going to John's birthday this Saturday? Arthur : Yes, I'm coming. How about you, are you coming? Paul : No I'm not going. My family will be out of town to attend a cousin's wedding.

  • Whether it is correct to use 'going' in the question, "Are you going to John's birthday?" to suggest that one is not coming?
  • Whether the use of 'coming' in this question: "How about you, are you coming?" is still correct although the word 'going' was previously suggested?

Situation 3 : both boys cannot make it to the party.

Paul : Are you going to John's birthday this Saturday? Arthur : No, I'm not coming. How about you? Are you going to his party? Paul : No I'm not going either. My family will be out of town to attend a cousin's wedding.

  • Whether Arthur's response, "I'm not coming. Are you going to his party?" is correct ?

The use of coming and going in some situations could be a little tricky for me. I highly appreciate all your answers. Thank you so much.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Dan Bron, Drew, Tushar Raj, Misti Jun 19 '15 at 19:50

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  • Coming and going are symmetric and differ only in direction. If you're walking towards me, I think you're coming, and you think you're going. – Dan Bron Jun 18 '15 at 20:44
  • Shouldn't the questions be either like Do you go to John's party this Saturday? or like Will you go to John's party this Saturday? ? Are you going to John's birthday? sounds like a question in present tense, but it should be in future tense. The going tophrase confused me a bit, because you can build future with going to but in this case it is not. Please tell me if I got this wrong. – Daniel Jun 18 '15 at 21:20
  • Makes me think of sitting on the beach and saying "I'm going in now", and going into the sea for a swim. After a bit, and perhaps getting a little cold, I'll say, "Hmm. I think I'm going in now" and go out of the sea. – Margana Jun 18 '15 at 21:55
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    Realistically I think both speakers would use the same verb even if, as @DanBron rightly suggests, technically it's a matter of direction. So: He said "Are you coming to my party." I said "I'm very sorry but I can't come." It would sound a bit odd if I said "I can't go" even though it's technically correct. – ThomasDoe Jun 18 '15 at 22:14
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    These are deictic words, and they're treated in the Deixis Lectures. Start with the first one, "May We Come In?". – John Lawler Jun 18 '15 at 23:04

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