go ask / go to ask / go and ask | I'll < go/ go to/ go and>

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Stieizc, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. Stieizc Senior Member

    I noticed this sentence:
    You may
    go ask Jenny.

    It sounds natural, and is actually used a lot. But now I have a question: why not

    go to ask Jenny"?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    It's not natural BE ears - to us it sounds AE
  3. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    And I would naturally say "...go and ask Jenny".
  4. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    'Go to ask Jenny' is perfectly correct.
    'Go ask Jenny' is American idiom.
    'Go and ask Jenny' is British idiom.
  5. JoanTaber Senior Member

    New York
    English Northeast USA
    In AE, I have never heard "I will go to ask Jenny"; instead, "I'll ask Jenny" or "I am going to ask Jenny."
  6. Stieizc Senior Member

    I see. So it's safe enough to say "You may go to ask Jenny", right? It doesn't matter if modal verbs like "may" exists.
    Thank you, everyone!
  7. modulus Senior Member

    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    I don't know how you came to this conclusion. Either "go and ask" or "go ask".

    Added: I see wandle supports "go to ask". To me, this sounds like a word-for-word translation.

    Added 2: Knowing how prolific wandle can be in defending his point of view, I’m debating if I should delete this before he sees it. But in all honesty, I’d never utter that sentence the way he proposed.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  8. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Like wandle I speak BE. You don't. It should not come as a surprise that we might say something that you wouldn't. I have no problem with "you may go to ask Jenny".
  9. modulus Senior Member

    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    I accept that. :)

    I was basing my generalization on the observation of other BE speakers who had commented---Beryl and Keith.
  10. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    In the interest of balance, I'm with modulus on this one: Either "go and ask" or "go ask".
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  11. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    modulus. The problem with threads such as this is that the simple little sentence in the OP can have varying contexts. People's responses depend on interpretation of the intended meaning. If go ask Jenny was a command I would see it as AE and the normal BE as go and ask Jenny (but go to ask Jenny would still be grammatically correct). You may go ask Jenny could have more than one intended meaning. It could be giving permission - you are allowed to go ask Jenny - or may be expressing uncertainty - you could go ask Jenny or stay here instead. In none of those would BE do without a linking word between go and ask. If it is a case of giving permission to ask and the permission is specific (ie Jenny, not anybody else) I would see you may go to ask Jenny as necessary and you may go and ask Jenny as wrong. If the permission is for the going rather than the asking then you may go and ask Jenny seems more appropriate.
  12. modulus Senior Member

    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    A problem with threads like this is that once you repeat a sentence often enough, it may sound natural to you. "you may go to do this" now sounds acceptable (although archaic) to me. But I don't know if I have talked myself into it or not. I go with my first impression that it sounds off.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  13. Stieizc Senior Member

    You are right.:)
    I should have say, in BE, it's safe to say "go to ask".
    But after reading what Andygc said, I have to admit that still I was too fast to come to my previous conclusion.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  14. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I've just Googled these three options with the results:
    • Go to ask her : 383 000
    • Go and ask her : 210 000
    • Go ask her : 6 400 000
    (The latter is probably inflated by also being a film title.) It is certainly the most American of the three and you would not normally hear it in Britain. ​
  15. Stieizc Senior Member

    I see. It's such a useful tool. Thank you!
  16. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I wouldn't take that as much of an indicator if I were you.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  17. Stieizc Senior Member

    Maybe you are right.:) But I would always check google to see if a pattern exists.
  18. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    Here are results from the corpora. They are smaller samples, but for various reasons, they tend to be more reliable than raw Google results.

    go ask him 0 18
    go to ask him 0 0
    go and ask him 7 7

    BNC: British National Corpus (100 million words)
    COCA: Corpus of Contemporary American English (425 million words)
  19. Stieizc Senior Member

    :) Good to know!
    (Corpora seem to give only written examples. So maybe, in Britain, we can say "go to ask him", in some situations.)
  20. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Your search term is too narrow - you are excluding examples of go ask somebody and go to ask somebody.

    No, you can write go to ask in BE. Go and ask is much more common, but I have already given an example where I would certainly write go to.
  21. Stieizc Senior Member

    I tried corpora myself(I'm not sure if I'm using it correctly)
    go ask 3 176
    go to ask 4 7
    go and ask 81 54

    Interesting enough... I "borrowed" this table from you, Cagey. (I wonder if such thing is called a table? Sounds strange!)
  22. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    You are using it correctly, I think. You got more results by leaving off the pronoun. I included the pronoun to be certain I was seeing the same construction, but I am not certain that was necessary.

    Yes, it is a 'table'. When you click the "Go Advanced" link below the 'Quick Reply' box, you are given the option to create a table, (in case you were wondering.)
  23. Stieizc Senior Member

    Thank you!
  24. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Just one point - read through the results. One of the go to ask entries is go to ASK, where ASK is an organisation, not the verb.
  25. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    In BE "go and ask him" is more common than "go to ask him" because it suggests that you will go and that you will ask him. "Go to ask him" tells us only the reason for going, without saying whether the asking takes place. I find it natural to say, "I went to ask him, but he wasn't there". But I'd use "go to ask" only in cases of this kind. As an imperative I would always say "go and ask".
  26. modulus Senior Member

    ইংরেজি - আমেরিক
    It is interesting that in past tense, it sounds completely natural.
  27. Stieizc Senior Member

    :) That's easy to neglect. But I think there can't be too many cases like this. Still I have to be more careful.
  28. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Hi, friends,
    I’m having a hard time distinguishing these usages. What’s the difference? Which one is correct/incorrect?

    For example, should I say:
    1. I’ll go check the book.
    2. I’ll go to check the book.
    3. I’ll go and check the book.

    Any AE / BE preference?

    << Moderator's note: Merged with previous thread. >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2012
  29. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    In British English, 3 sounds best and 2 is simply wrong.

    However, that doesn't mean that "go to check" is wrong in all tenses. "He went to check the book... (but got lost on the way)" is possible, but such a failure to succeed isn't possible in the first-person future.
  30. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    What???? I'll go to check the book. What on Earth is wrong about that? It is a perfectly normal and grammatical use of the infinitive.
  31. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    They all sound fine to me and mean pretty much the same thing. Whatever differences there are between them are in emphasis only and are in any case so minor that I doubt if I could explain them even to myself.

    And I agree that "I'll go to check the book" is fine. I can't even imagine what might be wrong with it. There, at least, the emphasis is fairly easy to explain: This structure would be used if there was a specific book known to both the speaker and his listeners that needed to be checked and if the speaker needed to go somewhere - to the library, to another room - to check it.

    Edit: Upon reading the three examples again, I'm going to retract "the emphasis is fairly easy to explain" regarding sentence #2 - because it's not. I was wrong about that. So I'm going back to my earlier statement that the differences are so slight that they're almost impossible to explain.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  32. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I don't hear "I'll go check the book" from BrE speakers and I don't use it.
  33. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    I'd say "go and [another verb]" is, in many cases, informal/colloquial in AmerEng, although as the last comment suggests, it may not be in Brit. To be honest, it drives me a bit crazy, but I get there rather easily.

    In a sentence like, "I'll go and be there if you need me," it seems more necessary.

    I found one reference to this issue.
  34. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)

    When I hear "go to" I often feel there is a sense of failure. E.g: "He went to open the door, but before he got there..." or "He went to kiss her but she turned away." This is not always the case: "He went to help the injured in the Japanese earthquake."

    However, I can't say I've heard it used in the first person future. Don't know why, just not.

    Is "I'll go and + verb" colloquial in BE? Well, obviously, as it uses the abbreviated 'll. But not at all incorrect.
  35. Babbit Junior Member

    Brescia, Italy
    I heard "I've gotta go catch a bus" in a TV series on DVD.
    I checked the subtitles.

    Shouldn't it be "I've gotta go to catch a bus"?
  36. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    'Go' + verb is colloquial and common in AmE, less common in BrE, where I'd always say 'go and catch'. The word 'to' more strongly indicates purpose: 'I've got to go to catch a bus' means "I've got to go in order to catch a bus (for the purpose of catching a bus)", whereas 'go (and) catch' is more like just the two things: leave here, and catch the bus. 'Go (and) catch' is much more likely than 'go to catch'.
  37. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Mod note: I have merged Babbit's thread (beginning with post 35) with an earlier thread concerning the options: go and <verb>, go to <verb> and go <verb>.​ Please read above for some very interesting comments.

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