On your mark, get set, go! and ready, set, go!

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On your mark, get set, go! and ready, steady, go! are two phrases that mean the same thing. We’ll look at the meaning of these phrases, some alternate renditions of these phrases and their origins. We’ll also look at some examples of their use in sentences.

On your mark, get set, go! is a phrase used to begin a competition. Originally, on your mark, get set, go! was used in the 1800s to begin foot races. The word mark referred to the place on the running course where the runner would start, whether a line or a set of starting blocks. Get set is a sort of warning that the signal to start running is about to occur, though today when a runner “gets set” he usually raises his hind quarters and tenses his legs in preparation to run. The word go, of course, means that it is time to start running. In American English, the singular form take your mark, get set, go! is used as if only addressing one particular runner. In British English, the form take your marks, get set, go! is often used as if the announcer is addressing all the runners at once.

The phrase ready, set, go! is a shortened version of take your mark, get set, go! that is also used to open a competition, usually in an informal situation. An alternative form is ready, steady, go! While the phrases take your mark, get set, go! and ready, set go! have their roots in foot races and running, the terms may also be used to start a competition that is not a sport or race.


Take your mark…get set…GO READ! Summer Reading Club starts on June 1 at the Northbrook Public Library, and everyone from babies to kids to teens to adults can be a winner. (The Chicago Tribune)

Ready, set go for Rio as kind Geordie fans offer to help fund Stephen Miller’s Paralympic dream (The Chronicle)