Go out in town / on the town

cool-jupiter

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello, teachers. I've been wondering if theres is any significant difference between 'go out in town' and 'go out on the town'. I think I've heard and read both expressions before, but I haven't been able to see a lot of difference there.

A) Why don't we go out in town?
B) Why don't we go out on the town?

If you could point out any difference between A) and B), that would be really appreciated!
 
  • roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    Hello, teachers. I've been wondering if theres is any significant difference between 'go out in town' and 'go out on the town'. I think I've heard and read both expressions before, but I haven't been able to see a lot of difference there.

    A) Why don't we go out in town? :confused:
    B) Why don't we go out on the town? :tick:

    If you could point out any difference between A) and B), that would be really appreciated!
    A) doesn't sound good. B) is right. It means spend money doing things (going to dinner, going to a movie, going shopping, etc).
     

    cool-jupiter

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    roxcyn - Thanks for your feedback. I'll defenitely learn to choose 'on the town' over 'in town'.

    sdgraham - Thanks for providing me the link. It really helped.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I typed in "Shall we go out on the town?" into google, and it found 3 entries. Why? Isn't natural to make an invitation that way?

     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    As I said in another thread, "Shall we...' in American English is not very common. It's possible, but not common.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Do these three mean more or less the same and are all natural to say?

    -Why don't we go out on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we meet up on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we hang out on the town on Sunday?
     

    Mr. Clean

    Member
    English - International
    Hello, teachers. I've been wondering if theres is any significant difference between 'go out in town' and 'go out on the town'. I think I've heard and read both expressions before, but I haven't been able to see a lot of difference there.

    A) Why don't we go out in town?
    B) Why don't we go out on the town?

    If you could point out any difference between A) and B), that would be really appreciated!

    It's cool that you're paying attention to the small stuff. Then you'll learn lots. (It's not the most fun method all the time, but it's very effective. Well done!)

    The difference you're noticing is between what I'd call an open expression (A) and a fixed expression (B).

    If you want to use the fixed expression, (B) is correct and (A) incorrect.

    If you want to use an open expression, (A) could also be correct in my opinion.

    Let's imagine this exchange between two people:

    P1: Dinner and drinks [go out] at the neighborhood diner [outside the center of town] tonight?
    P2: Yes, but let's go out in town [the center of town] this time. There's a new restaurant there we should check out.


    This would work by thinking about it like this, one meaning for each parenthesis:

    (A) Open expression: Let's (go out) (in town)
    (B) Fixed expression: Let's (go out on the town)


    Then there's also the word 'downtown' that we use when talking about the center of a town or city, but maybe in a slightly different way than in the example above.

    Of course, this is slicing meanings very thinly. And maybe a bit too much ... Sometimes too much slicing can cause confusion. Also, my example might not be the most elegant. But since you did such a good job noticing details, I thought it might help now and in the future.
     

    cool-jupiter

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Mr. Clean - Greetings. It is my pleasure to meet you and get feedback. Every time I come here, I realize that context does matter. Your explanation of 'go out in town' is really interesting. I might come out of the woodwork every now and then. I hope I can meet you and learn from you again.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Let's eat/have dinner in town/downtown this time."

    I don't find 'go out in town' at all natural.
    "Let's go into town to eat" is another possibility.
     

    cool-jupiter

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    "Let's eat/have dinner in town/downtown this time."

    I don't find 'go out in town' at all natural.
    "Let's go into town to eat" is another possibility.
    Hermione Golightly - It's been a while. I always find it intellectually stimulating to see native speakers sometimes disagree, which I think is totally understandable because exactly the same thing happens when you are arguing about Japanese grammar. Thank you for your post. "Let's go into town to eat" has entered my database.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Do these three mean more or less the same and are all natural to say?

    -Why don't we go out on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we meet up on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we hang out on the town on Sunday?
    Only the first of those is idiomatic.

    The whole point is that to go out “on the town” is an idiom — as explained way back in post #3. You can’t water it down by saying “in town”, or by using a different verb, without entirely missing the point and ending up with an unnatural-sounding statement.
     

    Mr. Clean

    Member
    English - International
    My pleasure! I'm happy to share my point of view any time.

    Mr. Clean - Greetings. It is my pleasure to meet you and get feedback. Every time I come here, I realize that context does matter. Your explanation of 'go out in town' is really interesting. I might come out of the woodwork every now and then. I hope I can meet you and learn from you again.
     

    Mr. Clean

    Member
    English - International
    Exactly! No town needed. (Thanks for adding that! That type of observation helps a lot in my experience.) But sometimes maybe deep pockets ... :)

    Because it's an idiom, if go out on the town, you may not even go to a town! You could go on the town in an amusement park for example.


    Usually however it refers to going to a nearby big city and having lots of fun (and probably spending a lot of money).
     

    Mr. Clean

    Member
    English - International
    The reason that I replied the way I did was not to suggest mixing and messing up idioms. It was to point out how noticing pieces of language and their meanings is a great way of learning a language well.

    In my opinion, noticing multiple possible solutions, good ones and less good ones, helps us decide on ones that simply work and ones that are more idiomatic or even elegant.

    It's cool that you're paying attention to the small stuff. Then you'll learn lots. (It's not the most fun method all the time, but it's very effective. Well done!)

    The difference you're noticing is between what I'd call an open expression (A) and a fixed expression (B).

    If you want to use the fixed expression, (B) is correct and (A) incorrect.

    If you want to use an open expression, (A) could also be correct in my opinion.

    Let's imagine this exchange between two people:

    P1: Dinner and drinks [go out] at the neighborhood diner [outside the center of town] tonight?
    P2: Yes, but let's go out in town [the center of town] this time. There's a new restaurant there we should check out.


    This would work by thinking about it like this, one meaning for each parenthesis:

    (A) Open expression: Let's (go out) (in town)
    (B) Fixed expression: Let's (go out on the town)


    Then there's also the word 'downtown' that we use when talking about the center of a town or city, but maybe in a slightly different way than in the example above.

    Of course, this is slicing meanings very thinly. And maybe a bit too much ... Sometimes too much slicing can cause confusion. Also, my example might not be the most elegant. But since you did such a good job noticing details, I thought it might help now and in the future.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    -Why don't we go out on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we meet up on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we hang out on the town on Sunday?



    Only the first of those is idiomatic.
    How about now? All natural and mean the same?

    -Why don't we go out on the town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we meet up in town on Sunday?
    -Why don't we hang out in town on Sunday?
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    They're all natural, but they don't mean the same.

    go out on the town -- go out for entertainment, drinking, etc, as was said in #3
    meet up in town -- could be going individually into town, meeting up, and then going somewhere else (perhaps even to another town) as a group
    hang out in town -- could be just sitting in a park enjoying the fresh air and the passing people for several hours, and then going home
     
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