So these three have always threw me through a loop

  • 去 - Qù - Means to go to a place

  • 出 - Chū - Means to go out

  • 回 - Huí - Means to go back

The only case I know to not use 去 (Qù) as a way of going somewhere is when saying your going home at which point you use 回 (Huí)

How can I identify a situation where each version of 'to go' is correct to use?

  • 1
    it's 回家 because you have to leave home in the first place, and then you return home
    – user58955
    Feb 5, 2014 at 22:59
  • 2
    So I think the issue is the reference location. For instance, when you get to the office and realise you forget something at home, you can say '我把xx忘記在家裡了, 我要回去拿一下, 然後再過來', you can also say '我要去家裡拿一下xx, 然後再回來'. In the first case the reference point is your home and in the second case your office. But when you leave work and go home, it's always 回家.
    – user58955
    Feb 5, 2014 at 23:04
  • @user58955 +1 for addressing the question and not just giving examples of word usage and ignoring the question
    – 50-3
    Feb 6, 2014 at 2:08

4 Answers 4


I don't understand. It seems you answered your own question.

Some example usage:

去学校 (go to school),去公司 (go to the office; 去上班 go to work),去旅行 (go on a vacation),去法国 (go to france)

出门 (leave the building),出去 (go out),出来 (come out),出国 (leave the country)

回家 (go back home),回去 (go back),回国 (go home [from abroad]),回公司 (return to the office),回学校 (go back to the school)

  • How does 去公司 differ from 回公司 what conidtion makes you use one over the other?
    – 50-3
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:37
  • 1
    去公司 means you go to work from home; 回公司 means you return to the office from a lunch break, etc. I always think 去 and 回 are the easiest to distinguish, because 回 means return
    – user58955
    Feb 5, 2014 at 22:58
  • Thanks user58955. I originally used "return" but changed it to "go" (more natural). I changed it to "go back" (still natural in English but conveys the meaning better)
    – amateur
    Feb 6, 2014 at 1:23

There is differences for using these words:

(note the usage of 去 in this context)

If you are in US, and you are asking your friends in US when will he/she going to China, then you will have to use: 你什么时候回去中国?, means "when will you go back to China?"

If you are in China, and you are asking your friends in US when will he/she going to China, then you will have to use: 你什么时候回来中国?, means "when will you come back to China?"

You cannot use: 你什么时候回去中国? while you are in China, and you cannot use 你什么时候回来中国? while you are in US.

回 itself means back, but it cannot stand alone while you are asking a question like above. It just like in English: come back and go back.

The same goes to 出, just like in: 出去 and 出来. You will have to use 出去 when you tell your friends to go out of the room while yourself is in the room, and you will have to use 出来 when you tell your friends to go out of the room while yourself is out of the room.

(Refer here for more information about the usage of these words)

  • Good explanation. I forgot about 回来.
    – amateur
    Feb 6, 2014 at 1:55
  • Nobody really says '你什么时候回去中国' or '你什么时候回来中国'. Both sound weird. Usually people simply say '什么时候去中国' or '什么时候回中国'. However, even for Chinese who reside in the US, going to China is usually referred to as '回国' for them as well, even among naturalized citizens.
    – user58955
    Feb 7, 2014 at 8:52
  • @user58955: I just would like to show the difference between both words that the direction of 来 is towards the speaker and the direction of 去 is against the speaker.
    – mrjimoy_05
    Feb 7, 2014 at 9:05

You can use "去", when you go some place that no matter whether you had gone before. You can use "回", only when you go to the place where you had been gone before.

for example:

1.You are going back home.

You can say "我去家里", or "我回家里"(because you usually stayed at home);

2.You are going to the restaurant where you lost your phone.

You can say "我去饭店,我手机丢那了" or "我回饭店,我手机丢那了"(because you had gone to the restaurant before);

3.you are going to the USA that you had never been to.

You can say "我要去美国", but can't use "回", because you had never gone there.

"出" looks like "out". You can use it when you are out of something.

for example:

"出门" -- You go to somewhere out of your house.

"出国" -- You go another country out of your contury.

"出家" -- You are monk and are out of the raucous riot of commerce.

"出来" -- You are out of the place that you stay, and will be in another place.

"出去" -- You are out of the place where you stay, and go to other places.


去 is the "all purpose" word for "to go." The others are used for "specialized" cases.

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