My friend took a photo of this Chinese sign in Australia:

enter image description here
(click to enlarge)

It's a formal, long-winded way of saying "stay 1.5 meters apart". Specifically it says:






However, I'm curious as to why there is a 去 in there. I've come up with a few hypotheses: (a) it's some grammar pattern I'm unfamiliar with (something like the reverse of 来 used to connect two verb phrases), (b) it's used to mean "to" in English, (c) it's related to a dialect. I'm not sure if any of these are correct.

Question: Why is there a 去 in the above?

  • 1
    I prefer 来 instead of 去.
    – fefe
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 1:55

2 Answers 2


I also wondered people can use either '来' or '去' for 'to' as in 用水来滅火 and 用水去滅火, and my impression is as follow:

来(to) emphasize the mean

[确保社交距离][来] 保护您和我们的员工 = To protect you and our employees with (the policy of) ensure social distancing


去(to) emphasize the objective

确保社交距离 [去] [保护您和我们的员工] = use (the policy of) ensure social distancing to protect you and our employees


用水滅火 = use water extinguishes a fire

用水来滅火 = extinguish a fire with water (stress 水 is the mean)

用水去滅火 = use water to extinguish a fire (stress 滅火 is the objective)


Also, we use 来 when the object is close to you; we use 去 when the object is a distance from you


來我家 - come to my home

去你家 - go to your house

With this rule, we can apply it to your question

确保社交距离 [来]保护您和我们的员工 (保护您和我们的员工 is the goal right in front of you)

确保社交距离 [去] 保护您和我们的员工 (保护您和我们的员工 is a goal you set out to reach)

The two sentences basically mean the same, just from a different perspective

  • IMHO, "去" in "去保护……" is a preposition but in "去你家" it is a verb. "大部分动词能带动态助词‘了’,介词不能。大部分动词能带动态助词‘了’,介词不能。" Quoted from Baidu Baike. So the content in "Edit" seems not very convincing.
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 11:40
  • Just wanted to mention 去 and 来 in other functions have a similar difference
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 12:07
  • 用水來滅火/用水去滅火are acceptable because of 用. You can't extrapolate too much from it. Without 用, it's a whole different world. With 用, 來/去 actually can be omitted. Try doing that to OP's sentence. What'd you get? 我们需要确保社交距离保护您和我们的员工. Does this sentence look OK to you? I don't think so.
    – joehua
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 22:57
  • '确保社交距离' is a policy, not just a verb phrase ' ---> (用)'确保社交距离' (政策) If it was 要确保社交距离, then it would be better to write 要确保社交距离, 從而保护您和我们的员工. Try the two verb phrases [入內必須戴口罩] and [确保社交距离] you can treat them as policy and say 用入內必須戴口罩, 确保社交距离政策
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 0:28
  • 引水來滅火/ 倒水去滅火 illustrate the different function between 來 and 去 better. if it is just 用水滅火, the connection between 用水 and 滅火 would be weaker, You can almost argue: " I am talking about the two topics: '用水' and '滅火' "as in '如何節省用水與正確滅火方法'
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 0:31

That's bad Chinese. No all Chinese is good. Be careful what you read.

Instead of 去, the notice should have used 以.


  • If you consider 2 points, A and B, 去 is 来, depending on where you are standing. 你过来巴。好,我过去。
    – Pedroski
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 5:39
  • @Pedroski Sure but I don't see the relevance. The original sentence OP posted is still bad Chinese.
    – joehua
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 7:13
  • 1
    For whatever reason, as a native Cantonese speaker, 以 sound more formal and I can properly explain it as "in order to". However, 去/來 still made sense to me and I just noticed how weird they are by viewing them from the English perspective. Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 13:46
  • @Daniel To me, 去 doesn't make sense; 來 would make sense in the sentence 我们需要用社交距离來保护您和我们的员工. As in Tang Ho's example, 用....來 is an acceptable usage.
    – joehua
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 15:02

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