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went to swim/went swimming/sightseeing

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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went to swim/went swimming/sightseeing

Postby Jededly » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:21 am

Hi!
Could you tell me please if the following sentences mean the same thing, or they have some difference?
After breakfast we went sightseeing/swimming.
After breakfast we went to sightsee/to swim.
After breakfast we went for sightseeng/swimming.
I wonder how to explain using the phrase "went sightseeing/swimming". Did it really come from the sense "went in order to sightsee/swim", or what is the same,"went for sightseeing"?
Or "swimming" is a direct object of "went" the way as "the distance" and "the lesson" in "we went the distance, we went the lesson, we went five miles". I hope you get what I mean. I really don't know how to get the gerund after the verb "go". Is it the shortened version of "went for sightseeing" or maybe, "went with the purpose of sightseeing" OR it is just "the direct object", like five miles in "went five miles" or "crying" in "to start crying" ?
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Re: went to swim/went swimming/sightseeing

Postby Alan » Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:57 am

(1) After breakfast we went sightseeing
(2) After breakfast we went swimming.
(3) After breakfast we went to sightsee.
(4) After breakfast we went to swim.
(5) After breakfast we went for sightseeing.
(6) After breakfast we went for swimming.

(1) and (2) are correct and idiomatic. (3) is ungrammatical (there is no verb *to sightsee) and (5) and (6) unnatural to the point of unacceptability. (4) is basically acceptable, but better replaced by (2).

The ability to form a (gerundive) go -ing phrase, while generally possible for almost any kind of sporting activity (go surfing/skydiving/parasailing, etc.) is limited to some extent by convention, so that while we say go shopping, we do not, for example, say *go chatting. These phrase are therefore best treated by the learner essentially as fixed expressions.

Henceforth, please do not overload one post with many different questions, but try to post them individually (see guidelines for posting)!
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