I know that when the activity is outdoors and done especially in your free time, we should use the ing ending after the verb to go, Example: I go swimming every morning....or they go running every sunday. But of the following examples, which one is correct and why?

  1. I go playing football at weekends.
  2. I go to play football at weekends.
  3. We go to see a film every sunday
  4. We go seeing a film every sunday

Why is it that 2 & 3 sounds right to me despite the fact that you have to go out to do the activities and in your free time?

  • 1
    go seeing is not idiomatic and has never been idiomatic in English. They might go walking the dog, but they don't go seeing a movie.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:51
  • In the US here, I would say "I might go walk the dog", but that's not "technically" correct English; I would write "I might go to walk to the dog." I don't think I'd say "I might go walking the dog"; however, I would say "I might go walking."
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:57
  • 1
    Perhaps "go"+gerund-participle works where the outdoor activity is intransitive, but not where it's transitive. "I go swimming/climbing/hiking/driving/walking/running every Sunday": all OK. But most of the following sound slightly odd: "I go swimming lakes every Sunday", "I go climbing mountains every Sunday":, "I go running a marathon every Sunday":, "I go walking the dog", "I go driving the car every Sunday". A bit more doubtful still: "Do you like going climbing mountains?" But "Do you like going climbing?" is fine (as is "Do you like climbing mountains?").
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 0:12
  • I think the gerund is acting as a plain, old noun and it has to be an activity. You can't make a noun transitive, but you can make a gerund transitive, so that could be the case. I would say "I go swimming in lakes every Sunday", but just "I go climbing every Sunday" or "I climb mountains every Sunday." I would not say "Do you like going climbing?" I would say "Do you like to go climbing?"
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 0:18
  • Yes, I think it has to be intransitive most of the time: I go sneaking around. I go partying around town, I go sledding in the mountains. I go skating (on a pond). But almost all of them are activities whose -ing form can stand on its own as a noun.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 0:23

3 Answers 3


I think the "outdoors and free time" guide is not reliable. English is, unfortunately, pretty inconsistent about when to use the gerund or the infinitive. For example both of these are fine:

I want to go to fish on the lake this weekend
I want to go fishing on the lake this weekend

The gerund sounds a little more natural, as it can be awkward to repeat the same proposition more than once in a sentence, but the infinitive is fine.

Otherwise certain verbs seem to prefer one or the other, but I feel like you have to memorize these case by case:

I go to play piano on weekends.

I go to sleep by 10 every night.

I go surfing when the weather is clear.

I go shopping in the morning before school.


Why this insistence on going?

I play football at weekends. (On weekends/on the weekend)

We see a film every Sunday.

What was gained by using "to go"? What is lost by discarding it?

  • I agree that "I play football at weekends" sounds much better than the slightly odd-sounding "I go to play football at weekends". On the other hand, "We see a film every Sunday" is rather vague: it might mean that you watch one on television or on your computer. "We go to see a film every Sunday", on the other hand, usually means the same thing as "We go to the cinema every Sunday".
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:29
  • Because Philip, my question has to do precisely with the verb "to go". I don't really need information about "going". Example: "I go to see a film every sunday" which apparently is correct, even though is an specific activity for which we have to to go out to do and in our free time? And why it is wrong to say: "I go seeing a film every sunday" How I am supposed to know which verbs go in their infinitive form and which verbs to with the ending "ING" after del verbo go? (call it gerund or gerundive) Please, I still can't get it, the absence of a rule makes it more confusing. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:42
  • You use them all of the time; that's how. I told you that the trick is that it is an activity and it can be a noun on its own without being a gerund. Swimming is a noun; sailing, hiking, running, walking, partying---these are all activities that are mostly sports, but some activity nevertheless. "I go sightseeing" is fine because "sightseeing" is a noun; it's an activity.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:49
  • In the US, when speaking, we usually say "go +bare infinitive" such as "I go play football on the weekend" except we don't say it when it is in third person singular such as "he goes play football." That, we'd never say; never "goes play", but yes to "go play". It's not grammatically correct, but it's a shortened way to say it. I would never write "go play" or "go do"; I'd always write "go to play" or go to do", but it's colloquial speech here.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:51
  • What country are you in? What's your native language? Just wondering because I may be able to help. I know some French. I doubt it's French though.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:55

Nos. 2 and 3 are correct. The rest are wrong; however, they should read as follows:

"I go to play football on weekends." (Use "on" for "weekends; not "at"; "on weekends".)

"We go to see a film every Sunday." (capitalized "S" for "Sunday".)

You are confusing present participles and gerunds here. "Swimming" is a common gerund that we use almost always as a noun because we don't like to say the word "natation", so swimming is one of those gerunds that have become straight-up nouns today. Others, especially sports, are "jogging", "running", "biking". Examples:

"Did you know that swimming, jogging, and running are all great activities?"

Obviously, this rule isn't completely consistent and so you will just have to learn them. I actually think your examples are rare cases of the "gerundive" in English, rather than the "gerund", i.e.

"The lake is worth swimming in."

("swimming" is a gerundive; not a gerund herein.)

NOTE: I'm partially wrong in my explanation as to why we say "going swimming", but not completely. Look at this link for more information:


  • 1
    In BrE, "at weekends" is correct.
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:36
  • Okay, then rjpond says it's correct in BrE; I've never heard it in American and Canadian English...not once!
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:41
  • According to your explanation, it would be correct then to say: " I go playing football on weekends" If it is wrong, why would that be? Because it has a different meaning? Is there a rule to indicate when should use the infinitive or ing end? What about these two? A. I want to go to fish on the lake this weekend B. I want to go fishing on the lake this weekend Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:43
  • It's hard for me to explain. When talking about an activity such as sailing, hiking, biking, running, diving, etc--any activity, you can say "going + the gerund / noun".
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:48
  • "Playing" is not a specific activity; football is the activity, but it's not a "gerund".
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:50

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