When you don't know where the nearest station is and ask a passer-by for directions, which of the following questions is appropriate and why?

  1. Could you tell me how to go to the nearest station?
  2. Could you tell me how to get to the nearest station?

Option 1 - using the word "go" suggests that you know the direction in which you must travel, but that you are asking about which mode of transportation you should use, or which sequence of steps you must follow in order for you to arrive at the station e.g. 1) chose transportation method, 2) embark 3) travel 4) arrive.

Option 2 - using the word "get" sugggests that you are asking the directions / route by which to arrive at the station.


Your second sentence, with 'get', is the accepted form, although the first is perfectly logical. 'Why' is harder: English loves to use 'get' in lots of constructions, and in this case [I think] it's expressing an achievement: you can get a drink [achieving possession of the drink] and you can get to a station [achieving motion in the right direction to reach the station].

  • I believe as you say that go emphasises the journey. It would slightly imply to the passer-by that you're more concerned with the route than them giving you instructions on how to reach your destination. – SuperBiasedMan Jan 13 '16 at 14:15
  • In the context of your "get a drink" example, I think "get" is expressing the attainment e.g. "I won the race, now I get the medal" (acquisition), "I am getting the hammer" (retrieval, to the end of "having" something), or "I get the gist of the story" (arrival at some idea/place) "Get" also has the meaning of "retrieval" - "I am getting the hammer" or "I get the gist of the story" – GWR Jan 14 '16 at 20:01

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