What Word Comes After Go?

For non-native English speakers, prepositions can be a nightmare. To, on, for, in … it often seems like they follow no set pattern, and even the best ESL speakers trip up sometimes. Because the verb to go is so common, I probably hear more preposition-based mistakes with this verb than any other. Luckily, there are four basic rules that will help you get it right most of the time:

First, let’s categorise what you want to say after go:

  1. Place
  2. Reason
  3. Preposition
  4. Home
(1) Place

When moving from place to place, we use to after the verb to go.

  • I go to Japan every year.
  • I went to a coffee shop.
  • I’ll go to the market tomorrow.
I’m going to Boracay.
(2) Reason

When talking about the reason for going somewhere, use on.

  • She’s going on a business trip.
  • My family went on vacation.
  • He has gone on a course.
They went on their honeymoon.
They went on their honeymoon.
(3) Preposition

When the word following go is a preposition (e.g. under, in, next to, etc.), simply use that preposition (don’t add to or on).

  • The car went under the bridge.
  • The pens go in the box.
  • The weather’s beautiful. Let’s go outside.
She's jumping over the ditch.
She’s jumping over the ditch.
(4) Home

The word home is a special case. We don’t use a preposition when talking about going home.

  • He went home at 9 o’clock.
  • I always go home straight after work.
I want to go home.
I want to go home.
Your Turn

Can you answer the following questions correctly? Put your answers in the comments, and I’ll tell you if you’re right.

  1. Yesterday, my brother went __________ a ski trip.
  2. I’ve always wanted to go __________ Canada.
  3. You look tired. You should go ___________ home.
  4. He’s not here right now. He went __________ vacation yesterday.
  5. If you want to hide, you should go __________ the box.
  6. It’s a pedestrian bridge. People go _________ it.
  7. Do you want to go _________ the bank?
  8. The weather’s beautiful. Let’s go __________.
  9. I hate going __________ business trips.
  10. It’s time to go __________ home.

BONUS TIP: You can use more than one prepositional phrase, e.g. I went on holiday to England.

For a fuller list of English prepositions, try English Grammar Online.

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