Saturday, January 7, 2012

Confusing verbs - come, go, bring, take and get

Polish has two basic verbs for go: iść and jechać. Which you use depends whether you are on foot or on a horse. Or rather whether you would have made the journey on foot or on a horse in the days before mechanised transport.
In English, it is not the method that is so important, but the direction relative to the speaker or the person they are talking to. And it's the same if we are carrying something or are with someone.
I don't think many advanced students really have problems with come and go, but when it comes to bring and take, it seems to be a different matter. Practise using these verbs in their basic sense with these exercises:

Note - In these exercises, all answers need to be typed in, and consist of one word only.

Coming and going

Exercise 1 - X represents 'here' (the office where A and B work, and where they are now). Complete the sentences by entering suitable forms of come or go

  • A: I to work on foot today, how about you?
  • B: The traffic was so bad, I decided to by bus.
When talking about moving towards the place where we are now, we use the verb .
  • A: Well, I'm home, what about you?
  • B: I'm to the cinema.
When talking about moving away from the place where we are now, we use the verb .

Thinking from the other person's point of view

Exercise 2 - X represents 'here'. Complete the sentences by entering suitable forms of come or go

  • A: We're to the pub later; would you like to with us?
  • B: Great idea. I'd love to with you. What time are you ?
When the speaker talks about the listener joining them to go somewhere with them, or about the speaker joining the listener to go somewhere with them, we often use the verb to talk about the joining motion, even if we use the verb for the main movement.
  • A: Hi Mum, it's me.
  • B: Hello darling. Are you still to see us tomorrow?
  • A: Yes, we'll probably in the afternoon, at about four.
Just a quick note to say that we won't be to your place till after lunch, so don't bother making anything for us.
All the best
When talking about movement to a person we are talking to (including on the phone or in writing), we use the verb .

Bringing and taking

Exercise 3 - X represents 'here'. Complete the sentences by entering suitable forms of bring or take

  • A: I think I'll go out for some lunch.
  • B: You'd better your umbrella with you, it's pouring with rain. And I wouldn't go to Luigi's if I were you; I've heard the boss is Thelma there for lunch today.
When talking about going somewhere with somebody or something, we use the verb .
  • A: I've my son with me this morning. He's spending the day with some friends who live nearby.
  • B: By the way, I remembered to that book you were asking about.
When talking about coming somewhere with somebody or something, we use the verb .

Talking about the past and future

We can also use come and bring when talking about movement to a place where the speaker or hearer was in the past, or will be in the future.
But if we are talking about movement towards a place where neither speaker nor listener were, or will be, we use go and take.
Note - We can use come / bring round when talking about visiting the speaker or hearer, and go / take round when talking about visiting other people. If no specific place is mentioned, it probably refers to the speaker or listener, so will be come / bring round.

Exercise 4 - Complete the sentences by entering come, go, bring or take in the appropriate form

1.My husband's to Manchester next week on business.
2.Make sure you and see us next time you're here in Liverpool.
3.I'm the car to the garage for a service tomorrow.
4.I to see you yesterday, but you weren't there.
5.I to your office yesterday, but you were out.
6. the kids round with you. Ours would love to see some new faces.
7.I the kids to the zoo yesterday. And managed to them all back in one piece.
8.I'm so sorry, but I can't to your wedding. I've already been invited to to somebody else's wedding that day.
9.Peter round some flowers for Susie yesterday. So we them to her in hospital.

Going somewhere to find something and bring it back

Exercise 5 - X represents 'here'. What single verb which we haven't mentioned yet will fill all the gaps?

  • I'll just that file I need ... OK, here we are.
  • I need to go and some money from the cash machine. I'll be back in a minute.
  • Somebody'd better go and a policeman.
When talking about going to find something or someone and bringing it or them back, we usually use the verb .
Note that we often say 'go and' before this verb.
  • Here Rover! Fetch!
  • I'll go and fetch a pen.
  • I'm fetching Susie from the station at 3 o'clock.
When talking about going to find something or someone and bringing it or them back, we can also use fetch.

Come and do this, go and do that.

Look at these sentences:
  • Come and have your dinner before it gets cold
  • When did your in-laws last come and visit you?
  • Go and wash your hands; it's time for supper.
  • I need to go and find the map.
In spoken English, we often use and instead of to when another verb follows come or go and we want to talk about purpose, or tell someone what to do.

Been and gone

Although it is the past participle of be, been is sometimes used a bit like come and gone. But there is a difference.

Exercise 6 - Enter been or gone into each gap

1.He's just out to the bank. He should be back soon.
2.Debbie, why haven't you to the bank yet? We desperately need more change.
3.Bungee-jumping! It's definitely a case of ' there, done that, and got the T-shirt'.
4.Martin has to Paris for a few days.
5.Peter? With him, it's usually a case of here today, tomorrow.
6.Somebody told me you've just in Australia?
7.Where have you ? We've been looking everywhere for you.
8.I'm afraid you've missed Mike. He's already and .
Rule 1 If somebody has somewhere (else), they are not here.
Rule 2 If somebody has somewhere (else), they are not there any longer.
Rule 3 If somebody has here, they were here earlier, but are not here any longer.

Returning somebody or something, and returning somewhere

We can make phrasal verbs with come, go, bring and take plus the adverb back. Sometimes the meanings are literal, sometimes less so.

Exercise 7 - Complete the sentences with appropriate forms of the verbs come, go, bring and take

1.I hope you'll back and see us soon.
2.Remember to the change back with you.
3.She's out, but I think she's back in the afternoon.
4.I'll have to back to work in a few minutes.
5.Have you that book back to the library yet?.
6.It's a wonderful country, and we really want to back there some day.
7.If you're out to the shop, can you me back a sandwich.
8.She's taken maternity leave, but she's back to work here next year.
9.It's all back to me now. I'm beginning to remember everything.
10.I back what I said to you earlier. It was unfair of me to say that.
11.That music they're playing me back to my student days.It back lots of great memories.
12.When you've finished lunch, I'll you back to school in the car. And when school's finished I'll come to the school and you back home.
Rule 1: - To back is to return here, and to back is to return there.
Rule 2: - To sb/sth back is to return sb/sth here, and to sb/sth back is to return sb/sth there.

Phrasal verbs

There are also a lot of other phrasal verbs based on the verbs come, go, bring, take and get. I have written a post on phrasal verbs with go here. There is also a post on the many uses of the verb get, which includes phrasal verbs. And you can find exercises based on other phrasal verbs here.

Come and go after going to.

When talking about future plans and intentions, we often miss out going to before the verbs go and come, as it can sound a little strange.
  • I'm going to the shops this afternoon. (or - I'm going to go to the shops ...)
  • She's coming to see us later. (or - She's going to come to see us ...)
The advantage for the learner of doing this is, that when using go and come with future reference, you don't need to worry whether you are talking about plans and intentions (going to) or arrangements (present continuous), the end result is exactly the same.

Comings and goings.

We have a few expressions based on directional pairs:
  • There were a lot of comings and goings at the palace today.
  • The lion paced backwards and forwards behind the bars of its cage.
  • We need to make a decision and stop all this toing and froing on this issue.
  • We've had our ups and downs, but generally it's been a good experience.
  • He looked this way and that, but couldn't see anybody.

Bringing it all together

Exercise 8 - Samantha (S) has already arranged to go and see her mum at the weekend. She rings her mum (M) to talk about the details. Complete the conversation with suitable forms of the verbs: come, go, bring, take, get. You will also occasionally have to use been.

S:Hi Mum, it's me again. I just wanted to tell you I'm my boyfriend on Saturday.
M:Oh, Derek. It'll be nice to see him again. He hasn't to see us lately.
S:No, Mum. Not Derek. That was a while ago. This is Paul. I met him at a -and-buy sale organised by the local church for charity.
M:Really, Samantha. I can't keep up with your boyfriends. When are you ?
S:Paul has to to his karate class in the morning, so we'll after lunch.
M:But won't you be hungry?
S:No, don't worry. We'll a Chinese -away and eat it somewhere on the way. Or would you like us to you something and we can all eat it together?
M:No, it's OK. Your dad needs to to a Council meeting at two, so the two of us will need to eat early.
S:Talking of Dad, is he there?
M:No, he's the dog for a walk in the forest. He said he'd be for the whole afternoon. He's a picnic tea with him.
S:That'll be nice for him.
M:I hope doesn't back too late, and that he the dog back in one piece.
S:Oh, you know Dad. He's quite responsible, really.
M:By the way, your aunt phoned. She's just to Disneyland France; her kids pestered her to them there. I think she wants to tell you all about it. Perhaps she's you back a souvenir. Have you got her new number?
S:No. Just hang on a sec while I and something to write with. OK. Got that.
S:Oh, just to let you know, Paul and I are to the opera next week. Would you like to with us. It's Così fan tutte.
M:That would be lovely.
S:OK, we'll two extra tickets, then. You will Dad, won't you?
M:Well you know your dad and opera, darling, but I'll see what I can do. Anyway, I have to now, somebody's calling on the mobile.
S:OK, bye. See you tomorrow.

Going somewhere and getting somewhere.

Exercise 9 - Use your instinct and enter to or get into the gaps, and the complete the rules.

1. What time did you home last night? (leave the office)
2. What time did you home last night? (arrive home)
3. How do you to work in the mornings?
4. I usually to work by bus.
5. Excuse me. Do you know how I to the main station?
6. I don't know how I'm going to to work with this transport strike.
Rule 1a: to talk about leaving somewhere, we use .
Rule 1b: to talk about reaching or arriving somewhere, we use .
Rule 2a: to ask about method of transport or movement, we usually use .
Rule 2b: to tell someone about method of transport or movement, we usually use .
Rule 3: to ask somebody for directions, we usually use .
Rule 4: to suggest there might be some difficulty in moving or arriving, we use .
In general, when talking about the whole movement, we use go, and when talking about the end of the movement, or sucessfully completing the movement, we use get.

Exercise 10 - Complete the dialogue with suitable forms of go and get. Note that there are a couple of gerunds (-ing forms).

A: We (1) to a small outdoor folk festival last weekend.
B: How did you (2) there?
A: We (3) by train, and then walked for the last few miles.
B: And how did you know the way from the station to the festival site?
A: We asked some people how to (4) to the site, and they told us which direction to (5) in. It was OK till we decided to take a short cut and to (6) through some fields. One was quite muddy, and (7) through the mud was quite tricky. And then we came to one with a bull in it, so we had to (8) round another way. Finally we came to a river, and we didn't know how we were going to (9) across it. But luckily we saw a bridge a bit further on and (10) across that. Then we started to hear music in the distance, so we just (11) towards the music. There was another small river, but we managed to (12) across it OK with the help of some stepping stones. When we finally (13) to the festival site, we asked where we could pitch our tent, and immediately (14) to the camping field, although (15) through the crowd took a bit of time.
B: And how long did the journey take you?
A: We left quite early in the morning and (16) to the camping field at about five, so all in all it had taken us most of the day to (17) there.
B: And are you glad you (18) there?
A: Oh, yes. And we're (19) again next year. Especially now we know how easy it is to (20) there.

How to get certain Brits hopping mad.

When ordering coffee etc, British people often say 'Can I have a coffee, please?.' Some Americans, however, say 'Can I get a coffee, please?'
For some strange reason this apparently annoys a lot of British people, who think that get can only mean go and find and bring back, the way we used it above. They seem to think that 'Can I get a coffee, please?' deserves such answers as:
  • No. You're not allowed behind the counter.
  • Go and help yourself. But it won't be any cheaper.
  • What do think this is? Self-service?
  • You're not in South Perks now!
In 2010, Matthew Engel of the Daily Mail invited readers to send in the Americanisms they hated the most. 'Can I get a coffee?' seems to have been top of the list.
On a personal note, I speak British English, I like British English, I religiously use British spelling, and largely avoid Americanisms in my speech and writing. But I can't really see that saying 'Can I get a coffee?' means 'the end of civilisation as we know it'.
In any case, these invitations to readers to send in their pet hates just pander to stupid anti-Americanism and ignorance. We might expect this from the Daily Mail, but not perhaps from the BBC, where Matthew Engel did a similar exercise the following year. Many of the examples people sent in weren't even Americanisms, but the editors didn't tell us that. They probably didn't even know themselves. Matthew Engel introduced his BBC article like this:
Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.
All of these words we use without a second thought were not normally part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.
The only trouble was that only one of these words, lengthy, really is an Americanism. The others all have British origins!
The BBC article provoked a furious backlash from the linguistics blogs, many of which rather seem to have missed the point. They spent a lot of column inches defending these American expressions, such as 'I'm good'.
But it could be argued that the BBC and Daily Mail articles, silly as they might have been, weren't really attacking the expressions themselves, only their use in British English. After all, there are a few Briticisms that some Americans are none too happy to see being used in American English.


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