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Is there any difference between go to the city centre and go into the city centre? For example:

I am going to go to the city centre tonight.

I am going to go into the city centre tonight.

By the way is it idiomatic to just say to/into the centre? For example:

Would you like to go to/into the centre tomorrow?

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As you say, "go into the centre" is idiomatic. As a native British English speaker, this is what I am most used to hearing and what I would say myself.

Normally you would say that you go to somewhere specific; while we go into an area.

"Go to the centre" sounds like you are going to the 'dead centre'; that is the precise central point of something. A "city centre" is not necessarily the central point of a place, but is what we call the main business and commercial area of a city. As you are entering an area rather than going to a fixed point, it makes sense to say "into".

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  • I disagree, there is a subtle difference between into and to in terms of the action and in most cases "the city center" is said to be gone "to" not "into". – SovereignSun Mar 3 at 11:28
  • @SovereignSun There is a difference, I thought I'd explained that? The difference is idiomatic, you won't necessarily get that from a dictionary. – Astralbee Mar 3 at 11:36
  • I could and I would prefer to know of such a difference in place of the OP. – SovereignSun Mar 3 at 11:41
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For me, the two sentences demonstrate two differnet approaches.

to go to

means to go until one sees/meets/experiences someone or something, while

to go into

rather highlights crossing (kind of) a border/barrier and entering an area.

I would generally use the first option - just in analogy to to the cinema, to the zoo. And, please, consider the famous supporter of my view: Santa Claus, who always comes (i.e. goes - from his point of view) to town.

I would use the second option specifically to highlight a zone border or a barrier like in Don't let us go into the city center. The car park is much more expensive there.

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