The Differences between 去 qu 到 dao 走 zou

走,去 and 到 all can be used to indicate the action of ‘to go to…’, however, there are many differences between them, and most of the times they are not interchangeable. It’s best to first understand that they are different words with different meanings,

zǒu to walk, to leave  我走了 wǒ zǒu le I am leaving

 to go to   我去了 wǒ qù le  I am going 

到dào to arrive   我到了 wǒ dào le I am arriving/ I have arrived

Now let’s examine how they works when put into sentences:

   jīn tiān shì wàn shèng jié, wǒ xiǎng qù guǐ wū
A:今 天 是 万 圣 节,我 想 去 鬼 屋Today is Halloween, I wanna go to the haunted house. 

wǒ men zǒu ba
B:我 们 走 吧! Let’s go! (let’s leave this place so we can go)

From the above sentences we can tell that 去 is used in the sentence to indicate a specific location which is 鬼屋, the haunted house, while 走 focuses on the action of ‘going’, B is trying to deliver the message of “let’s get going, let’s make the action of ‘to go’ happen”. 

The above sentence can also be changed to,

wǒ men qù ba
我 们 去 吧! Let’s go (in this sense it’s the real meaning of ‘let’s go’. There is nothing wrong with this sentence, however we tend to use 我们走吧 a lot more, it is just how we accustomed to say)

Other examples for 去:

wǒ qù mǎi cài
我 去 买 菜  I am going to do some food shopping 

wǒ qù chī fàn
我 去 吃 饭  I am going to have some food

wǒ qù shāng diàn
我 去 商 店  I am going to the shop

wǒ qù shàng hǎi
我 去 上 海  I am going to Shanghai

wǒ qù shàng cè suǒ
我 去 上 厕 所  I am going to the toilet

Examples where 去 can replace 走:

Wǒ zǒu le
我 走 了  I am leaving

wǒ bù xiǎng zǒu le
我 不 想 走 了。。。 I don’t want to leave/walk anymore…

wǒ bù xiǎng qù le
我 不 想 去 了  I don’t want to go anymore

wǒ bù xiǎng qù guǐ wū le
我 不 想 去 鬼 屋 了 I don’t want to go to the haunted house anymore…

You can see that in many occasions, 去 can be used to replace 走。 However, this is not the case for 走 to 去 sentences. For instance, you cannot replace 走 to 去 in all of the specific 去 example sentences above. 

Some examples for 到 as well,

wǒ dào shāng diàn le
我 到 商 店 了。 I’ve arrived the shop/I am at the shop. 

wǒ dào shāng diàn mǎi cài
我 到 商 店 买 菜。 I am going to the shop to do food shopping.  

wǒ men zǒu dào shāng diàn lǐ
我 们 走 到 商 店 里。 We walked into the shop. 

wǒ men dào shāng diàn lǐ qù shuō shuō huà
我 们 到 商 店 里 去 说 说 话 let’s get into the shop to have a chat. 

wǒ men zǒu dào shāng diàn lǐ qù
我 们 走 到 商 店 里 去Let’s walk into the shop. 

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