[Grammar] Go+gerund

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kwfine

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Dear teachers,

We say "go shopping", "go fishing", but
why it is not "go taking a bath"?
Instead I often saw people not using gerund after "Go", for example:

Group A:
1. Go take some good food
2. Go buy yourself new toys
But not
Group B:
1. Go taking some good food
2. Go buying yourself new toys

The sentences in Group A are confusing.
Could you help clarify please, teachers.

Thank you

Kitty
 

mmasny

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In some sentences, you'll see also a 'to' infinitive after go as in:
I'll go to sleep.
I don't think there is a simple rule that would explain all these differences. You should learn these phrases separately. But I'm not a teacher and maybe I'm wrong.
 

Mzungu39

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I'm not quite sure, but I think that 'go take a bath' is not a grammatical sentence and is used in colloquial, spoken language.
 

mmasny

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I'm not quite sure, but I think that 'go take a bath' is not a grammatical sentence and is used in colloquial, spoken language.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong grammatically about this sentence, at least if you put a comma after 'go'. But in speech, there is often no pause there.
 

IHIVG

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I'm not quite sure, but I think that 'go take a bath' is not a grammatical sentence and is used in colloquial, spoken language.

It's two completely different matters - bad grammar and colloquialism, which do not have to go hand in hand. Can you think of a sentence in which speaking of, or even, telling someone to take a bath would be considered a 'formal language'? :lol:
 

Mzungu39

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I agree. If you put a comma there, then it's ok. Otherwise, I still think you shouldn't use it in written language.
 

TheParser

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Dear teachers,

We say "go shopping", "go fishing", but
why it is not "go taking a bath"?
Instead I often saw people not using gerund after "Go", for example:

Group A:
1. Go take some good food
2. Go buy yourself new toys
But not
Group B:
1. Go taking some good food
2. Go buying yourself new toys

The sentences in Group A are confusing.
Could you help clarify please, teachers.

Thank you

Kitty


***NOT A TEACHER***

kwfine, good morning.

(1) I have checked by books. May I share what I learned?

(2) We may use go + -ing for sporting & leisure (free time) activities: I want to go shopping./ He has gone shopping./ Let's go shopping.
(a) To take a bath is not a sporting or leisure activity.
(i) Therefore, if you said, "I want to go taking a bath," native speakers would not accept that as correct.

(3) When we want to give an order, we can say:
(a) Sit down!
(b) Go sit down!


(4) In those orders, you must use the simple infinitive (no "to").
(a) The rules of English do not permit -ing.
(i)Therefore, you CANNOT say: *Sitting down! *Go sitting down!

Thanks for your question. It really made me think. Have a nice day.
 

Raymott

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Dear teachers,

We say "go shopping", "go fishing", but
why it is not "go taking a bath"?
Wouldn't the obvious cognate be "Go bathing"?

Instead I often saw people not using gerund after "Go", for example:

Group A:
1. Go take some good food
2. Go buy yourself new toys
This is American. Elsewhere you'd find "Go and buy yourself some new toys."

But not
Group B:
1. Go taking some good food
2. Go buying yourself new toys

"Go and <verb> something" is a different construction from "Go <verbing>.
Some verbs work with "Go <verbing>" and some don't.

The sentences in Group A are confusing.
Could you help clarify please, teachers.

Thank you

Kitty
R.
 

Mzungu39

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It's two completely different matters - bad grammar and colloquialism, which do not have to go hand in hand. Can you think of a sentence in which speaking of, or even, telling someone to take a bath would be considered a 'formal language'? :lol:

I'm afraid I cannot quite agree. Of course colloquialism and grammar errors are two different things, but in my opinion they often coincide.
When we speak we tend to simplify language and we don't strictly follow grammar rules. This happens in all languages.
Some examples in English:

I'm not feeling fine. (feel is a state verb, so it shouldn't be used in progressive form.

There's a lot of interesting books over there. (spoken language)

Native speakers can probably add thousands of examples...

The example we discussed above 'go take a bath' is in my opinion ungrammatical and yes, I agree, it would be used in spoken language only.:cool:

One more thing: I think that Americans are more into simplifying the language than the British, for example. Do you agreee?
This statement doesn't imply any nationalistic preferences, I just wanted to express my opinion about differences in using the language.
 

IHIVG

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I'm afraid I cannot quite agree. Of course colloquialism and grammar errors are two different things, but in my opinion they often coincide.
When we speak we tend to simplify language and we don't strictly follow grammar rules. This happens in all languages.
Some examples in English:

I'm not feeling fine. (feel is a state verb, so it shouldn't be used in progressive form.

There's a lot of interesting books over there. (spoken language)

Native speakers can probably add thousands of examples...

The example we discussed above 'go take a bath' is in my opinion ungrammatical and yes, I agree, it would be used in spoken language only.:cool:

One more thing: I think that Americans are more into simplifying the language than the British, for example. Do you agreee?
This statement doesn't imply any nationalistic preferences, I just wanted to express my opinion about differences in using the language.

I respectfully disagree. I still think that 'colloquial' has nothing to do with 'ungrammatical' at all. The phrases/words that are colloquial don't have to be grammatically incorrect and vice versa. (BTW, I'm not sure we should bring up the word 'coincidence' here- it's hard to speak of the matters and apply logic where coincidence is involved).

Here's definitions of the words "informal' and 'nonstandard' according to Arnold Zwicky, Professor of linguistics at Stanford University:

Informal: "Not formal or ceremonious; casual; more appropriate for use in the spoken language than in the written language".

Nonstandard: "Associated with a language variety used by uneducated speakers or socially disfavored groups".

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002447.html

The article also reflects on why "there's + plural noun phrase" should be characterized as merely informal rather than ungrammatical.

I agree with you that AmE seems to be more simplistic in some aspects of the language (for instance, leaving out the letters like in the words "favor", "savor"). But those examples just explain the difference between BrE and AmE.

PS: I can't believe that something is wrong with this sentence: 'I'm not feeling fine'.
 

Mzungu39

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Respecting your opinion and enjoying the discussion...

Referring to the article:
If 'informal' means that a certain structure is more common in spoken than in written language, it does not necessarily mean that it is grammatically correct (and vice versa), even though it is used by educated people.
There's or there is + a plural noun is still ungrammatical in my opinion regardless of who uses it, educated or uneducated people

As I understand your explanation, then colloquial or informal language cannot be treated as ungrammatical at all? If someone doesn't follow grammar rules, he would just say (as an excuse), well, I'm just using informal language...

So ungrammatical sentences can occur only in written language? I cannot agree with that...
What is then 'ungrammatical' in your opinion?

It's nothing wrong with 'I'm not feeling fine' besides that I should feel better... Joking:)
As I said, it should be: 'I don't feel fine.'Looking grammatically 'feel' is a state verb expressing a state in this sentence, therefore Present Simple should be used.
I know that the above example (in the progressive) form is widely used, propbably also by educated people...
 
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IHIVG

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Referring to the article:
If 'informal' means that a certain structure is more common in spoken than in written language, it does not necessarily mean that it is grammatically correct

But that's what the article was all about - implying that 'informal' is not tantamount to 'grammatically incorrect' (by providing 'there's +plural' as an example). Btw, I think there's a bit of discrepancy in conceptions here, so to clarify this: what do you consider a 'spoken' and, for that matter, a 'written' language? For me the latter is nothing more than the representation of the language by means of script/writing system; and the former is what we utter through the mouth. It's not that they are different - grammatically or lexically. What you speak, you can always write as well and vice versa... right?

What IS sometimes different though, and what the discussion is about is colloquial language vs. formal language. There are many words/expressions which one is unlikely to ever use when, say, talking at a business meeting, applying for a job or speaking to someone really important. However, it's not like people would raise their eyebrows and say that you are not speaking properly if you would use that language in the circle of your friends or at home. For example: some expresions like "just for the heck of it", "catch some Z's" or "slow on the uptake" or "to put the moves on someone" or "put in one's two cents", "greatest thing since sliced bread" ,"go down the drain". The same could also apply to the slang words: (AmE) hunky-dory, honcho, slammer, chintzy, etc. That is something that I consider to be an "informal language".
So, if I may ask you, what do you think is wrong with those expressions/words?

There's or there is + a plural noun is still ungrammatical in my opinion regardless of who uses it, educated or uneducated people
Well, the professor of linguistics says the first one is not. But we can just "agree to disagree" ;-).

So if someone doesn't follow grammar rules, he would just say (as an excuse), well, I'm just using informal language...
So, as I understood you, here's what you are trying to say:
Following the rules = good grammar, formal language.
Informal language= bad grammar.
Not following the rules = informal language.
Even if you're right about the second statement, the third one still doesn't work as a logical deduction stemming from the previous two statements above, IMO.


So ungrammatical sentences can occur only in written language? I cannot agree with that...
Where did I say that?
My main point was, that just because a certain phrase/word is mainly or exclusively used in the informal language, does not mean that it's bad grammatically.

What is then 'ungrammatical' in your opinion?
Usage of an obviously incorrect grammar, errors. Mistakes that you usually correct when teaching. Non-native speakers tend to speak that way.

P.S. Here's also a good sentence to consider: "Everyone has their own lifestyle".
Would you say to your students, that it's ungrammatical and thus, it's not the way they supposed to say it - since, obviously, 'everyone' is singular and it doesn't conform with the possessive pronoun.
 

Raymott

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Originally Posted by Mzungu39
There's or there is + a plural noun is still ungrammatical in my opinion regardless of who uses it, educated or uneducated people
Well, the professor of linguistics says the first one is not. But we can just "agree to disagree" ;-).
This is a common problem between linguists and some English teachers.
Linguists understand that language precedes grammar. The grammar book is a descriptive account of how the language has developed. It describes what people say.
The English teacher needs more certainty. So the Grammar Book becomes a Scripture. What the teacher sometimes forgets is that if 90% of native speakers use a construction in a certain way, then the grammar book is out of date. It doesn't mean that 90% of natives can't speak properly.
There is a learned Chinese gentleman currently posting who does not seem to understand this principle either.

Naturally when the usage is 50/50, the linguist is content to wait; but the teacher, being in a position of 'having to know', must continue to insist that the slowly phasing out usage is the only possible grammatical variant, because her latest edition of her Grammar does not yet accept it.

PS: "Everyone has their own lifestyle" is a correct use of the singular 'they' - in my view.
 

corum

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There is a learned Chinese gentleman currently posting who does not seem to understand this principle either.

Before I arrived at this sentence, I already knew I was one of the addressee. :)

The grammar book is a descriptive account of how the language has developed. It describes what people say.

You are talking about descriptive grammars. A prescriptive approach to grammar is different. It says what should be said and by using syntactic argumentation, it provides motivated reasons why certain structures should be adopted and others rejected. Descriptive argumentation goes along the lines of "because others use that (too)". You should not become so hot under the collar when a NNES disagrees with you. Proceed to square two. You can still maintain your precious respect-status by accepting occasionally that other people may have different opinions, that other people may be right, even if they are non-natives, rather than by putting down your opponents with your sarcasm, as you did in a previous thread.
 
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Mzungu39

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But that's what the article was all about - implying that 'informal' is not tantamount to 'grammatically incorrect' (by providing 'there's +plural' as an example). Btw, I think there's a bit of discrepancy in conceptions here, so to clarify this: what do you consider a 'spoken' and, for that matter, a 'written' language? For me the latter is nothing more than the representation of the language by means of script/writing system; and the former is what we utter through the mouth. It's not that they are different - grammatically or lexically. What you speak, you can always write as well and vice versa... right?

Well, I do agree that we should speak about formal and informal language, since written can also be informal, etc. Howecer, I do not agree that they are not different, the register is different and thus the way we express something.

What IS sometimes different though, and what the discussion is about is colloquial language vs. formal language. There are many words/expressions which one is unlikely to ever use when, say, talking at a business meeting, applying for a job or speaking to someone really important. However, it's not like people would raise their eyebrows and say that you are not speaking properly if you would use that language in the circle of your friends or at home. For example: some expresions like "just for the heck of it", "catch some Z's" or "slow on the uptake" or "to put the moves on someone" or "put in one's two cents", "greatest thing since sliced bread" ,"go down the drain". The same could also apply to the slang words: (AmE) hunky-dory, honcho, slammer, chintzy, etc. That is something that I consider to be an "informal language".
So, if I may ask you, what do you think is wrong with those expressions/words?

I'm not saying that something should be wrong with those expressions. It's just the matter of when it is appropriate to use them (different type of register). Besides, those are collocations, which has nothing to do with 'bad grammar' as you call it.
Grammatical incorrectness is something completely different, e.g. there's + a plural noun :)


Well, the professor of linguistics says the first one is not. But we can just "agree to disagree" ;-).

I still disagree and I think I will never be able to agree with that kind of combination ;-)

So, as I understood you, here's what you are trying to say:
Following the rules = good grammar, yes formal language, not necessarily. Informal language is (or should be) also primarily grammatically correct, but there's a difference in the way we express ourselves, the so called register; there are more differences in vocabulary pronunciation than in grammar as such; this may also be the reason that we feel more freedom to decline from grammatical rules
Informal language= bad grammar only sometimes
Not following the rules = informal language. no, exceptions or 'bad grammar' :)
Even if you're right about the second statement, the third one still doesn't work as a logical deduction stemming from the previous two statements above, IMO.




Where did I say that?
My main point was, that just because a certain phrase/word is mainly or exclusively used in the informal language, does not mean that it's bad grammatically.

At least we agree in one point.


Usage of an obviously incorrect grammar, errors. Mistakes that you usually correct when teaching. Non-native speakers tend to speak that way.
What is obviously incorrect grammar? To me there's + a pl. noun is! I often correct this one. And at the same time I tell my students that this combination is used in informal language, it's also where they have probably picked it up; American films...

P.S. Here's also a good sentence to consider: "Everyone has their own lifestyle".
Would you say to your students, that it's ungrammatical and thus, it's not the way they supposed to say it - since, obviously, 'everyone' is singular and it doesn't conform with the possessive pronoun.

I would accept this one...
 

Mzungu39

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This is a common problem between linguists and some English teachers.
Linguists understand that language precedes grammar. The grammar book is a descriptive account of how the language has developed. It describes what people say.
The English teacher needs more certainty. So the Grammar Book becomes a Scripture. What the teacher sometimes forgets is that if 90% of native speakers use a construction in a certain way, then the grammar book is out of date. It doesn't mean that 90% of natives can't speak properly.
There is a learned Chinese gentleman currently posting who does not seem to understand this principle either.

Naturally when the usage is 50/50, the linguist is content to wait; but the teacher, being in a position of 'having to know', must continue to insist that the slowly phasing out usage is the only possible grammatical variant, because her latest edition of her Grammar does not yet accept it.

PS: "Everyone has their own lifestyle" is a correct use of the singular 'they' - in my view.


I do understand the difference between formal and informal language.
There's a difference in if you learn a language and if you're using it in everyday life... When we learn it, we're trying to avoid errors to come as close to natives as possible... I'm aware of the fact that a non-native can never reach the same level (unless he moves to a target country...) When we use language, the grammatical correctness is not important anymore, it's only the message that we want to communicate...
If I have a look at may own - native language, it's the same. When we speak, we break a lot of grammar rules, which does not mean that the rules have changed because 90% of speakers break them. When we teach children a foreign language we should teach them by the rules; that's one of the teacher's roles. When they grow up and use the language in everyday life they can and will break grammar rules being aware of that or not ... But we have completed our task ...
 

Raymott

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I do understand the difference between formal and informal language.
I didn't say anything about formal versus informal language.

There's a difference in if you learn a language and if you're using it in everyday life... When we learn it, we're trying to avoid errors to come as close to natives as possible...
I didn't say anything about errors either.

I'm aware of the fact that a non-native can never reach the same level (unless he moves to a target country...) When we use language, the grammatical correctness is not important anymore, it's only the message that we want to communicate...
If I have a look at may own - native language, it's the same. When we speak, we break a lot of grammar rules, which does not mean that the rules have changed because 90% of speakers break them.
If 90% of educated speakers consistently, and over time, "break the rules", then the rules of the language have changed. And a grammar book that doesn't reflect the new rules of the language is wrong. One could argue that this also relates to uneducated speakers, but I wouldn't.

When we teach children a foreign language we should teach them by the rules; that's one of the teacher's roles. When they grow up and use the language in everyday life they can and will break grammar rules being aware of that or not ... But we have completed our task ...
I think you've completely misunderstood the point. The genuine language, English or whichever, is the language that the native people speak, not the language that someone has tried to codify by taking examples from the language and putting them tidily into a book.

The reason we don't still say 'thee, thy, etc.' is not because they are no longer in the grammar books. They are no longer in the grammar books because we don't speak that way any more.

It might be a useful thing for a language teacher to hold that grammars are scriptural, but the smarter ones will realise that that concept is only a working tool, and one that badly distorts reality for its own limited purpose.

Having said that, I believe it is sometimes necessary to teach a distortion of reality, because that is what most simplification is, and learners deal better with simplifications. In most cases, I take this view on this site. Of course grammar rules are necessary for learners, and colloquial or erroneous examples shouldn't be taught as the real thing. I can be as prescriptivist as anyone; but I know that grammar is a tool, not a God-given rule.

But it's an entirely different thing when a non-native speaker wants to argue with a native speaker (no 'learners' involved) that a particular construction is "wrong" because it's not in their grammar book, when the native speaker asserts - with almost full support of others - that that construction is used widely, accepted by educated speakers as being 'not an error' but a valid variant in speech and a possible precursor to a change in the next edition of the grammar book.
 

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Mzungu39:

Have you ever considered the fact that the language is not some 'petrified' 'solidified' substance which should and does stay the same over the decades? In fact, it's gradually and constantly changing, developing, reshaping, upgrading, modernizing... whatever the word there is for this phenomenon. Just like every other science does. When I look at some works of literature in my own language that date back to 14th, 15th centuries, I always have a hard time understanding what on earth they are talking about. It's as though this language is foreign to me.
I think Raymott hit the nail on the head when said that if the majority of natives do speak in a certain way and your grammar book does not eccept it yet, then, I'd say, your grammar book has a problem.
You were very quick to say that you will never be able to agree with a certain construction no matter what evebody else says - be it some authoritives of linguistics or the natives... It doesn't matter. Sure. What the dickens do they know, right? ;-)
 

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You can still maintain your precious respect-status by accepting occasionally that other people may have different opinions, that other people may be right, even if they are non-natives, rather than by putting down your opponents with your sarcasm, as you did in a previous thread.
Yes a non-native speaker can say what they like, and I can tell them they're wrong. I don't have a problem with that.
What's this respect-status you're talking about?

PS: Saying "Sure, saying something three times in a row makes it right!" may well be sarcasm technically, but in my culture, that would be accepted as a joke. In any case, it's more a comment on your saying something three times in a row than it is upon the content. Part of knowing any language in the real sense is being able to properly interpret these things, and no grammar book will teach you that.

I'm quite prepared to admit that you may have a superior understanding of your grammar book than I have. This certainly gives you authority to argue about what the grammar book says.
Non-native speakers certainly have a right to argue about grammar. But I've never encountered anyone before who would insist that something is wrong despite a handful of educated and language-aware natives saying that it can be right.
You'd possibly be on firmer ground in the inverse situation of insisting that something is right when natives say it is wrong. After all, we do not know whether somewhere a certain population is using it - making it 'right'. But you take your case of telling natives how they must speak their own language to the point of impudence.
 
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Mzungu39

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Dear Raymott,
I haven't misunderstood the point. I know that the natives create the language and that the language is changing, developing constantly. However, I cannot agree that the rules change just like that because most people do not follow them when speaking... A lot of things in a language change in time, that's true, but that a singular verb agrees with a plural noun... That's not logical in any language... I can accept the fact that it is used in spoken or informal language but grammatically it cannot be OK... I do respect other people's opinions... However it seems that you haven't managed to prove how the discussesd combination (there's + pl. noun) is grammatically fine. When all native or non native linguists agree on that I will have to accept it, though unwillingly, since I can see no logic in it...
 
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