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Here are two sentences:

  1. Once he got the passport, he went to the Chinese consulate in Toronto and applied for a visa.

  2. Once he got the passport, he went to the Chinese consulate in Toronto to apply for a visa.

Are the two sentences grammatical, and do they sound natural?

If they are both fine, what's the difference?

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3 Answers 3

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They are both pretty much fine, but have slightly different meanings due to tense:

'and applied for a visa' suggests that the process was completed, though conversely this may not have been the main reason for the visit.

'to apply for a visa' makes no such suggestion - the subject may in fact not have done so for some reason, but that this was the main reason that he went.

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  • Indeed, they are quite different semantically, in the first case he certainly applied whereas in the second case no one knows whether he applied or changed his mind. Apr 12, 2019 at 13:57
  • The word "to" insinuates this was the main or only reason for the visit. Based on the context, I imagine this is desired?
    – Jeff
    Apr 12, 2019 at 19:47
  • The first one states clearly that a visa application was, in fact, submitted. The second only states that he went to the consulate with the intention to apply for a visa; whether or not he actually did once he arrived isn't mentioned.
    – chepner
    Apr 13, 2019 at 17:00
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They're both perfectly valid and "natural", and in most cases they'd be equivalent and interchangeable.

But potentially there could be a difference. If it turned out the Chinese consulate was closed when he got there (or there was some other reason why he couldn't apply for a visa), the second alternative (using the infinitive to apply) would still be valid. But in that scenario, the first version (with the and conjunction followed by a "tensed" verb form) would be incorrect (because he didn't actually make the application).

That's because in version #2, to apply [for a visa] is an adverbial clause defining purpose1 (the reason he went to the consulate) - he could still have gone there for that purpose even if he was unsuccessful in his intentions. But the and version unambiguously forces the interpretation that he was successful.


1a: Then he went to the consulate and applied for a visa, but it was closed. - WRONG!
2a: Then he went to the consulate to apply for a visa, but it was closed. - FINE


EDIT:
1 Noting the later question past simple + to and infinitive form, it's worth explicitly pointing out that to in such contexts is effectively "short for" in order to (hence it's called an "adverb of purpose").

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  • I totally agree with your answer although I can't get the reason for which you put in bold that and. Apr 12, 2019 at 14:13
  • Same reason I emboldened to apply in the preceding sentence - they're mentions, not uses. Apr 12, 2019 at 15:52
  • He could also still be at the consulate... "He went to the consulate to apply for a visa. He'll be back this evening." Apr 12, 2019 at 17:26
  • With “and” his reason for going might also differ, he could have gone to see his daughter that works there, to spy, to steal, to have breakfast and applied either in his spare time or as a cover for his actual reason.
    – jmoreno
    Apr 14, 2019 at 1:57
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You can use "...in Toronto and applied for a visa" or "...in Toronto to apply for a visa".

The meaning is the same in both cases. The difference is, in the first case, you are simply stating something that happened: A (he went to the Chinese consulate) happened, then B (he applied for a visa) happened. In the second case, you are stating a reason: A happened for the purpose of B (and without further context, it is implied that B also happened). However, technically speaking, the two statements are like 99% equivalent so you can use either.

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