English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
  1. I go camping weekends.
  2. I go to camp.

What is the difference between 'go camping' and 'go to camp'?

share|improve this question
6  
As J.R. notes, the second sentence could be interpreted to mean either "I go in order to camp" where "camp" is a verb and "to" expresses intention (thus, "I go, intending to camp"); or that you go to a camp, where "camp" is a noun, and "to" is a locative preposition. – TRomano Feb 24 at 10:52

To go camping means to go to the wilderness (or semi-wilderness) for a few days or a week or so, alone or in a small group, sleeping under the stars or in a tent. You might cook meals over a fire.

To go to camp means to go a compound that has been built in a wilderness area, with cabins, a cafeteria, sports facilities, a pond or lake perhaps with canoes, or a swimming pool. There will be dozens or perhaps hundreds of other campers there. They will usually be grouped by age, and they will typically be children, or young teens, not adults. There will be organized activities in which the campers are expected to participate.

There are other kinds of camps that do not involve wilderness, but they would not be relevant here, since you have asked in the context of "go camping".

share|improve this answer
2  
"to camp" can be used as an infinitive, i.e. to refer to the activity of camping, even if a compound called a camp doesn't exist. – talrnu Feb 24 at 14:52
3  
@talrnu: True, but is it idiomatic for that infinitive to appear in the phrase "go to camp"? – TRomano Feb 24 at 14:58
    
I'd say no, it can be fully understood when taken literally. It may require context to be meaningful, but that doesn't make it idiomatic because that requirement is the same for both native and non-native speakers. – talrnu Feb 24 at 16:02
3  
The infinitive sense of go to camp could be used to signify intent, especially to contrast. No, we won't be staying at the Old Faithful Inn. We don't go to Yellowstone to luxuriate. We go to camp. – choster Feb 24 at 16:11
    
Some people go "camping" at a KOA campground (or similar), in their R.V., with electrical hookups, color TV, Internet service, water and sewer. Not all camping is in the wilderness (note, I was seven years old on my first week-long trip 15 miles into the primitive area on my own horse; I'm just saying there's more than one way to go camping). Also, there are sports camps, cooking camps and probably just about any other kind of "camp" that you can think of (think of them as seminars) so "go camping" does not necessarily imply actually camping in the woods. :-) – Craig Feb 25 at 1:42

I go to camp explains your reason for going.

  • Why do people go to the park on weekends? Some go to watch birds, others go to fish. I go to camp.

I go camping simply tells of an activity you like to do.

  • Jane goes birdwatching most weekends in the summer. John likes to go fishing. Me? I go camping on weekends.

Both sentences are grammatical, but they are used in different situations.


As a footnote, TRomano has given a different interpretation from mine, but neither answer is wrong. He is using camp as a noun, which is another way your very brief sentence could be interpreted.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 "go to camp" as a reason, can also be "I go for the camping" – Peter Feb 24 at 11:28
    
"I go to camp" is also a response to a question like "What do you do when it gets dark out?" – talrnu Feb 24 at 14:50
    
That would not be idiomatic. – TRomano Feb 24 at 17:30

"go to camp" means going to a place called "camp"

"camp" generally reffers to a place where someone has set up and organised activity (maybe for pleasure, maybe for training), typically (though not always) involving staying overnight and living in close proximity with the rest of the people doing the activity. It may involve actual camping (staying in tents) or there may be some kind of fixed accomodation.

"go camping" means to go and perform the activity known as camping (likely in combination with other things).

Camping means going to stay in a tent or similar. Possiblly in the wilderness, possiblly on a campsite. Possiblly as part of an organised group, possiblly not.

share|improve this answer

Camping is an activity.

Camp is a place.

To "go to camp" generally implies going to a particular camp, which encompasses certain types of activities, thus implying that such activities will be engaged in at camp.

However; going to camp does not necessarily imply actual camping, in the sense that there are football camps, baseball camps, basketball camps and so on in addition to organized summer camps, and all of which imply something different from going to a campground (or not) for a night or a week, whether in the backcountry or in a paved spot with water, electrical and sewer hookups at your local KOA campground.

share|improve this answer

Activity vs. Intent/Purpose

  1. I go camping weekends.
  2. I go to camp.

What is the difference between 'go camping' and 'go to camp'?

From a colloquial standpoint, the first sentence is pretty unambiguous, but is missing some connecting words. It sounds more natural to say "I go camping on weekends", implying that you go every weekend as "on weekends" denotes "on each weekend". In very informal speech you might elide "on", but it sounds sloppy to the native ear.

The sentence would be much stronger if you added a descriptive phrase to indicate how often you go, or why you are going. For example: "I go camping each weekend in the summer, and once a month in the winter."

On the other hand, "I go to camp" is pretty ambiguous, and depends a great deal on context. For example, it might mean:

  • I go to summer camp. (A place children often go for recreation and supervision in the summer.)
  • I go to base camp after each climb. (Something you might do if you're attempting to scale Mt. Everest.)
  • I go back to the camp after hiking the trail for a few hours. (A reasonable answer to what your activity schedule looks like.)
  • I go to camp. (A potentially reasonable answer to a question like "Why do you go to a national park every other weekend?")
  • I am going back to camp. (A reasonable answer to "Where are you going now?")

Other answers will doubtless address parts of speech and grammatical construction, but idiomatically or colloquially you should generally use the first form unless you're trying to communicate something rather specific about your activities.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.