If I call my mother when I am done shopping in the morning, I might tell her "I am coming home" if she is at home, but "I am going home" if she is not.

That afternoon at home, discussing the day's events with my father, I could say "I had already planned to come home after shopping," or "I had already planned to go home after shopping."

Which is preferred, and why?

  • Perspective! not grammar.
    – Kris
    May 9, 2016 at 7:49
  • Not grammar, no; but definitely usage. One may always refer to oneself as coming to one's own home, in any tense, no matter who is there or who one is addressing; in addition, one may always refer to oneself as going to one's own home. Both come home and go home are fixed phrases, available to all; anyone trying to state the rule that specifies their use will soon run into the complexities Fillmore describes in "Coming and Going"; this is not simple to read, but it is clear, and it is the real rule. May 9, 2016 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


Going by the way I interpret your question, the prior example is preferred as you are at home with your father discussing the direction you intended to travel after shopping.

Later, you are at the intended destination discussing the earlier statement to come to that place (home) after shopping that you made earlier to your mother.

I think this is true whether the father is at home with his child or not. Come or go is relative to where you are when you make the statement to your father later in the day.


That depends on the place where your father was:

1. At the time when you were done and he was at home

You could say "I had already planned to come home after shopping"

2. If your father was away at that time

You could say I had already planned to go home after shopping"
  • That could also depend similarly on where the planning is done (away from home) so go home!
    – Kris
    May 9, 2016 at 7:48

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