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Hello Teachers


The below is a QA I found in a Japanese site for English learners.
Q:
I was told that "Do you know how to go to the airport ?" is wrong. But I couldn't understand why it is wrong.
A: It should be "Do you know how to get to the airport?". "To get to the airport" implies "to reach the airport with making some effort", while "to go to the airport" means "to reach the airport naturally without making any effort". It is usual we need some effort to reach a certain place such as an airport, so it should be "how to get to the airport" rather than "how to go to the airport".

Now, my question. I know we have to say "Do you know how to get to the airport ?", but do you agree to the explanation by the answerer above?

paco
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Comments  
Hello Paco

1. Do you know how to go to the airport?

I don't agree that "go" is "wrong"; but it is much less idiomatic than "get".

The "effort" explanation seems strained. I would say, rather, that "get" lets the listener know that you intend to travel to the airport; whereas "go" might conceivably be taken for a general enquiry.

Which site does it come from, out of interest?

MrP
Hello MrP

Thank you for the quick answer. The site is [url=http://www5a.biglobe.ne.jp/~hippo/Q&A100-120.htm ]here[/url], but it is written in Japanese. What I wrote in my previous message is my humble translation. I guess the author of the Japanese page is an English teacher at a high school in Japan.

paco
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Oh, sorry, that's different, if it's a translation! I'll get down off my high horse.

The writer's reasoning is very strange, though. We can say "I go to France every year on holiday"; and that involves some effort.

MrP
Paco, I was writing this concurrent with MrP, but somehow it got attached to a deleted version of your post:

I don't think I see or hear much difference between the two phrases. The explanation of effort seems far-fetched to me; it takes effort both to go and to get.

If you don't know how to go/get there, you could trying going/getting there by bus or train? By car, you could go up route 95 and take exit 3, or if you want to get there from the south you could go through town and over the 2nd Street bridge.

(edit: I swear I wasn't copying off of MrP's notes.)
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Hello Davkett

Thank you for the reply. First of all I have to apologize for duplicating my question. Some native speaker told me that he uses "how to get" for inquiring about routes and "how to go" rather for inquiring about transportation means. But reading your answer, I feel you use them almost interchangeably. Anyway I got that the explanation given by the Japanese anwerer is not appropriate for reasoning the more idiomatic use of "how to get to the airport"

paco
For some reason I cannot completely explain, except to say "It's idiomatic", the "you" in "How do you go to ..." is a personal "you", while the "you" in "How do you get to ..." is an impersonal "you".

That is, when I ask how you go somewhere, I expect you to tell me how you yourself actually go there: by car, by truck, happily, sadly, by a roundabout route, directly, while singing, ...
This information may be of no use to me at all in getting there myself.

When I ask how you get somewhere, I expect you to interpret the question as "How does one get there? (I want to know because that's where I want to get to right now.)" In other words, I expect to receive step by step instructions about the best possible route from here to there, information of use to me in getting there.

I can see how the 'effort explanation' makes sense, even if somewhat obliquely.
"go" is mere motion. "get" involves the effort of managing to cause yourself to come to be at that place, if I can put it that way. Or, in different words, "getting somewhere" is "successfully delivering yourself there (in the face of your current ignorance of how to do it)".

It's precisely because I don't normally go to the airport that I don't know how to get there.
Knowing how to get somewhere is a prerequisite to being able to go there.
Going to the airport isn't a problem if you already know how to get there.

CJ

CJ
Hello CJ

Your discussion is very interesting and seems very reasonable. Though I am a mere learner, I too can feel the difference between two "you"s in the phrases "How do you go there?" and "How do you get there?". And I agree also that "get" in that usage means "manage to reach" and we cannot go to a place if we don’t know how to get there. The problem comes from that we Japanese always say in our language in a way like "Do you know how to go to the airport", not "how to get to the airport". I'd like to say thank you a lot as usual, anyway.

paco
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