去 – more than the opposite of 來

In a previous post, we looked at the character 來. In this post, we will take a look at its opposite: 去.

ancient writing

The ancient writing of 去 is a person on top of a cave (his home), meaning someone leaving where he is living (the house, or the homeland). The shape evolved and become the present day 去.

Han dynasty writing

The radical of 去 is 厶, which is counted as 2 strokes. 去 has a total of 5 strokes.

Basic meaning of 去

The most basic meaning of 去 is “to, to go”.

去 can be a one word sentence on its own: 「去!」which is giving an order for someone to go (away, forward, …).
Some common uses of 去 are:

  • 去 + place >> 我去學校。 (I go to school.)
  • 去 + action >> 我去買東西。(I go shopping.)

* all of the examples quoted in this post are characters taught in the Sage Formula curriculum, unless otherwise specified.


Examples of words containing 去

As with many other characters, 去 can combine with other characters to form new words. Some of these words have very little to do with its original meanings. In general, it signifies the removal or reduction of something. It can be a verb, or an adverb. Below are some examples:

去 as a verb:

  • 去掉 – to remove, to eliminate
  • 去世 – to pass away
  • 去皮 – to peel
  • 失去 – to lose
  • 抺去 – to erase
  • 除去 – to eliminate
  • 離去 – to leave
  • 一去不回 – gone forever

去 as an adverb:

  • 去年 – last year
  • 去向 – whereabouts
  • 去路 – outlet, the path one is following
  • 比下去 – to be superior to
  • 不知去向 – gone missing

過去 and 下去 are two very commonly used words. We will take a closer look at these two below.

過去

There are 3 distinct meanings and usages of this word.

Meaning 1:

"in the past".

Meaning 2:

It can be used together with other verbs to show the direction of the action, such as:

    • 過去 - to go over
    • 走過去 - to walk over
    • 跑過去 - to run over
    • 看過去 - to look over
    • 打過去 - to hit over
    • 踢過去 - to kick over
    • … etc
Meaning 3:

"Passable". Take a look at the examples below:

    • 說得過去 - acceptable (of an excuse or explanation)
    • 說不過去 - inexcusable
    • 過得去 - not too bad
    • 過不去 - to make it difficult for someone, unable to make it through

Pay attention to the use of 不 and 得 in the second pair of examples, as they are not opposites.

下去

While this word can simply mean “to go down”, it also means to carry on doing something, depending on the verb it pairs with, such as:

  • 說下去  to continue to tell
  • 看下去  to continue to watch
  • 聽下去  to continue to listen
  • 寫下去  to continue to write
  • 讀下去  to continue to read
  • 做下去  to continue to do

In the following situations, the words can have either meaning, to show direction or to show continuity, depending on the context:

  • 走下去
  • 爬下去
  • 吃下去

去 and 來

In general, 去 and 來 are considered opposites. They tell of the different location of the speaker in relation to the object, much like “come” and “go”, or “here” and “there”.

上去 go up / 上來 come up
下去 go down / 下來 come down
出去 / 出來
回去 / 回來
帶去 / 帶來
進去 / 進來
送去 / 送來
過去 / 過來

去 and 來 can be used in the same word (or idiom). The most straightforward meaning of this kind of words is to show direction of movements. Let’s look at some examples:

  • 跑來跑去 to run about
  • 飛來飛去 to fly about

Many other action words that involve movements that cause a change in location can be used in the same fashion, such as:

  • 踢 (to kick)
  • 轉 (to turn)
  • 走 (to walk)

In some cases where the verb do not involve movements in location, it gives a sense of back and forth, or in many directions:

說來說去 – all the talks on a subject
看來看去 – examining something from various points
想來想去 – to give all considerations on something
推來推去 – to push and pull others (being rude), everybody trying to evade responsibility and push it to others
眉來眼去 – to exchange flirting looks

It can also be used as an adjective, such as 直來直去, describing someone being very direct and straightforward.

An adjective worth learning is the idiom 死去活來. This idiom gives a very vivid picture when used with the following verbs:

得死去活來 – to be madly in love
得死去活來 – to cry one’s heart out
得死去活來 – to be in excruciating pain
得死去活來 – to be boiling mad
Some exceptional cases

In some cases (such as with the verbs 看 /聽 /吃 /穿), the meaning doesn’t change whether you use 去 or 來:

看上去 / 看起來 – it appears to be
聽上去 / 聽起來 – it sounds like
吃上去 / 吃起來 – when one tastes it
穿上去 / 穿起來 – when one wears it

去 is taught in Book 2 of Beginning Reader, one of the very first words that your child learns. As they learn more characters, they start to learn about different combinations of the characters to build new words.
The best way to expand their vocabulary is to build upon what they have already learnt.
In our coming post, we will share with you some games and activities that you can do at home to expand your child's vocabulary based on 去.

Stay tuned.

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