Usually, we say

He went for a sail.

But today I found

He went for sail.

I think nouns must be qualified by articles, determiners, pronouns etc. So the first sentence is correct but I am not sure if the second one is wrong. Also ngram shows no results for for sail

  • 1
    Yes, the second one is wrong. To go sailing is OK. To go [activity].
    – Lambie
    Apr 16, 2019 at 17:23
  • @Lambie I have found many sentences in Wren and Martin wrong. Is it so? Apr 16, 2019 at 17:26
  • @Lambie Should I prefer some other book for English grammar? Apr 16, 2019 at 17:27
  • 1
    He went for sail was given in Wren and Martin Apr 16, 2019 at 17:43
  • 1
    As the sea was calm, we went sailing or for a sail. Went for sail is not right in standard BrE or AmE English.
    – Lambie
    Apr 16, 2019 at 17:52

1 Answer 1


The proper expression is "go for a sail". Not all nouns require determiners (non-count nouns for example) but in this case the idiom requires "a". If your book teaches "Go for sail" (without any further context) then the book is incorrect.

Wren and Martin was written in the 1930s, it has been updated since, but is still old fashioned in many ways, and some of the updates have introduced errors. It is almost unused outside of Pakistan. There are much better English textbooks available.

(there is an unlikely sense of "go for" meaning "make a choice". You can say "I'll go for steak tonight" meaning "I'll choose to eat steak". I suppose a captain on a boat which has both sails and a motor could say "There's a fair wind blowing; let's go for sail instead of using the motor." But this would be a pretty forced example)

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