How To Talk About Change

Imagine the situation. You’re at a concert and the fans are waiting for the singer to come onto the stage. When the singer finally arrives on stage, how do the fans react?

Or you want to describe an older man who’s gradually losing his hair, or someone whose hair is no longer black or brown… What can you say in these situations?

In all of these examples, we can use the verb “go” to show how things change. Often the change is “for the worse” – and not for the better.

Here are some examples of how to use “go” to talk about change. Use these to sound more natural when you speak English.

Physical Changes

go deaf = when you can no longer hear well (often due to age)
“My grandma is going deaf in one ear.”

go bald = when men begin to lose their hair
“He went bald when he was in his 60s.”

go grey = when your hair changes colour to grey
“I’m beginning to go grey.”

go white = when your hair changes colour to white
“She’s gone completely white.”

Also = be so scared that the blood leaves your face
“When she heard the news, she went white.”

go red = when you’re embarrassed and you get more colour in your face
“When he heard his name announced, he went red.”

(Also “go red in the face”)

go blind = when you lose your sight
“He went blind in his 90s.”

go downhill = to become worse (we can use this in many other general situations)
“He got pneumonia and his health went downhill from there.”

Food

When food deteriorates (no longer good to eat) we have some “go” expressions:

go bad = become unhealthy, bad to eat
“I think this meat has gone bad. We should throw it out.”

go off = become bad to eat
“That cheese has gone off. It smells terrible.”

go sour = become bad to eat (especially for dairy products)
“The milk has gone sour. It’s sell-by date was a week ago!”

Financial Problems

Here are some expressions for financial and economic change.

go bankrupt = when your company doesn’t have enough money to pay debts
“The company went bankrupt and more than 100 people lost their jobs.”

go bust = go bankrupt
“Did you hear that the supermarket has gone bust?”

Reactions

go crazy / go wild / go mad / go insane / go bananas = behave with great excitement
“When she heard that she’d won the competition, she went crazy.”
“The fans went wild when they saw the boy band.”
“They played their number one hit and the crowd went mad.”
“I think I’d go insane with excitement if I ever met him.”
“He announced the winner and the crowd went bananas.”

go ballistic / go beserk = become very angry
“When he saw his son’s school report, he went ballistic.”
“When she heard the news, she went beserk.”

go numb = when you can’t feel anything because of the emotion (or the cold)
“It was so cold outside that my fingers went numb.”
“When they read out the names of the casualties, I just went numb.”

go blank = when you can’t remember something
“He asked me a question, but I just went blank.”

Other changes

go haywire = stop working properly
“I pushed the wrong button and the machine went haywire.”

go rogue = stop following orders and start to act independently (which could become dangerous)
Pronunciation: “rogue” rhymes with “vogue”
“A few men in the unit went rogue and decided they’d try to do the mission on their own.”

go native = start living and acting like the people in the (new) country you’re living in (this is more humorous)
“When he moved to Spain he went a bit native and started to eat much later in the evening.”

go off message = start saying things which aren’t official policy
“She went a bit off message in her speech – much to the dismay of other party officials.”


Speak English More Naturally & More Fluently

How To Talk About Change

Hi! I’m Clare and the founder of this site.

Did you know that between 30% and 80% of our conversations are made up of “automatic phrases” and collocations (like “go bald” or “go numb”? When YOU know these phrases, you’ll sound more natural when you speak English – and you’ll be able to speak more fluently.

My conversation program “Real English Conversations” shows you these phrases – check it out by clicking the link below!