I was reading a novel and in the novel I read a sentence, which did not sound fine to me.

From the novel:

He always escaped to go study.

But I knew it was perfectly (as I trust the writer and I am a non-native English speaker) fine there, but I need to know where and when should I avoid to before some words (maybe they are adverbs)? I also know that we do not use to before them (as they are adverbs):

Home, out, outside, somewhere, anywhere, nowhere, abroad, downtown, downstairs, upstairs, underground, there, here, in, inside.

We do not use to before them as well (I think study comes in this category):

go play, going shopping, go shopping.

My question is that are they also adverbs? if yes then please let me know the list when I should avoid to before them.

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    To me the question is unclear. I only have one sentence template to try to understand: He always escaped to go study. For example, I find no problem with "to go home, to go outside, to go play, to go shopping -- all of which fit the same sentence pattern that you demonstrated. Perhaps you could write some other complete sentences to demonstrate context it would be more clear. – CoolHandLouis May 25 '14 at 15:21
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    @CoolHandLouis I wonder if the question is why the writer didn't write "He always escaped to go to study." That is, even though there's a "to" in the sentence, OP is asking about the possible one that's been omitted. – Joshua Taylor May 25 '14 at 20:16
  • @JoshuaTaylor, Perhaps OP is saying that often one comes across phrases like "escaped to go to the market" and we don't say "go the market" or "go market". – CoolHandLouis May 26 '14 at 1:14
  • @CoolHandLouis That's another possibility. If it's the verb market, though, we can say "escaped to go market [his wares]," of course. – Joshua Taylor May 26 '14 at 1:46
  • @JoshuaTaylor, please check out my updated answer and see if it makes sense. Any comments/rebuttals/etc. are welcome. – CoolHandLouis May 26 '14 at 2:20

First of all we need more context to comment on that sentence.

We generally use escape from doing something or escape doing something synonymously.

So your quoted sentence sounds like He escaped something to go study

Now coming to your confusion - go study

It's not any elliptical form of go to study, rather it means go and study. It's more common in American informal language, mostly in conversation.

Go shopping, go playing are all different construction, where shopping and playing are gerund.

Hope this helps. Please write back to me if there is any confusion about my answer or if you need any more clarification.

  • Thanks for your quick response. So, can we use "go to study" instead of go study? Or "go to study" is completely wrong? – user62015 May 25 '14 at 14:03
  • No it's not wrong, it's another way of saying. Basically in writing and formal situation you should stick to "go to study", instead of "go study". "Go and study" is still okay, but I think "go study" is too informal. – Man_From_India May 25 '14 at 14:06

I think OP's issue might be "when to use to" as in "He left to go to the market." We don't say, "He left to go the market." nor do we say "He left to go market."

There are a couple rules here to follow:

  • He left to go verb: (Emphasis is on the action of the verb especially when the reason is fairly short.)

    • He left to go study.
    • He left to go play.
    • He left to go buy something at the store. (verb first, place second)
    • He left to go see the movie, Batman.
    • He left to go see Batman.
    • "I'm going to go do some laundry." (Here, "do some laundry" is an action. Compare with "I'm going to go to do some laundry" where "to do some laundry" is emphasized as a reason for going.)
  • He left to go to verb: (Emphasis is on the verb as a reason, used more often with the subordinate clause is more complicated and meaning of "in order to" is emphasized.)

    • He left to go to see his doctor about his stomach problems.
  • He left to go [Indefinite place or relative direction]:

    • He left to go somewhere.
    • He left to go outside.
  • He left to go to [Definite or indefinite named place]:

    • He left to go to the store to buy something. (place first, verb/reason second)
    • He left to go to a store.
    • He left to go to the store. (typically "to buy something", but could be some other reason: maybe he works there, maybe to meet someone, etc.)
    • He left to go to the dance. (signifying a place - he may or may not dance there.)
    • He left to go to a place.
  • To go and verb (Emphasis is equally on both going and verbing):

    • He left too go and see New York.

There are some more subtle/intricate reasons for using "to go X" vs. "to go to X", which I think would require a more substantial answer:

  • "Most of our money will have to go to pay the bills." (Some tense/aspect requires "to verb".)
  • "Most of our money will have to go pay the bills."* (This is idiomatically inferior. The use of "to pay" helps as a discourse marker when sentences become more complex. In other words, there is less ellipsis -- dropping of words -- in complex sentences.)
  • I got a long way to go to get to where he's at. ("A long way to go" is it's own phrase.)
  • I got a long way to go to get where he's at. (Less optimal because "to go" doesn't fit so well with "get where he's at.")
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    +1 I think this is a good taxonomy of examples, and covers a bunch of the most common cases. – Joshua Taylor May 26 '14 at 12:12
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    But "to go X" is, I suspect, not correct in many dialects, eg British English. If I read "to go study" I would assume the writer was North American. – Francis Davey Mar 4 '17 at 11:47

To briefly address the aspect of your question about adverbs:

"To go" is the infinitive form of the verb, and you can put an adverb between the two parts of the infinitive: "To boldly go where no one has gone before", or "to briefly address ..."

This is called a split infinitive, and many people believe that it is incorrect in English. Though it can be inelegant to split an infinitive with an adverb, it is not wrong. Many distinguished speakers of English throughout history have used split infinitives and they will be understood by any native speaker. Some people consider it better form to say "to go boldly..." or "to address briefly..." but it typically makes no difference to the meaning of the sentence.

Oddly enough, people who tell you that it is wrong to put an adverb between "to" and a verb, never tell you that it is wrong to put an adjective between "the" and a noun. If "to boldly go" is wrong then shouldn't "the green dragon" also be wrong?

  • "the green dragon" can't be wrong because nothing else rhymes so perfectly with "by the flagon" – coburne May 28 '14 at 17:08

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