Do you agree that:

  1. He went running to the park.
  2. He went to the park running.

mean the same thing - "He got to the park by running."

Now, if I want to say: He went to the park to have a run. I need to say

  1. He went running in the park.

But I am confused about "He went running in the park". Native speakers say it means "He went to the park to have a run."

But in means inside not in the direction of, hence, (3) should mean "He started to run in the park" and not "he went to the park to have a run". Or maybe (3) has two meanings?

"to the park" = in the direction of the park
"in the park" = inside the park

So, how come (3) He went running in the park can mean "He went to the park to have a run"?

  • It seems like you understand "to have a run" well enough. If that's the case, you probably can understand this "go something-ing" as "go (out) for that something" (e.g. "He went running" ~ "He went for a run"). I think this "go something-ing" is most common with those verbs that involve moving, sports, or outdoor activities, which, usually sound like fun. :-) – Damkerng T. Sep 30 '14 at 20:18
  • 2
    I think about "He went running in the park" as "He performed the act of running inside the boundaries of the park". Your sentence (3) doesn't really mean "he went to the park to have a run" it only implies it because in order to run in the park you first have to go to the park. Semantically they both come to the same result but they aren't really equivalent. Consider the case where he went to the park for the purpose of running, but when he got there the trail was flooded. Here you can see that going to the park to run is not the same as going running in the park. – Jim Oct 1 '14 at 4:01
  • @Jim, seems like you are the only person who understood the crux of my question. I wish you would have posted your answer as a real answer not a comment. – user1425 Oct 1 '14 at 4:48
  • @Jim I guess that (3) doesn't really mean "he went to the park to have a run" but it's more like "he went for a run in the park". – Damkerng T. Oct 1 '14 at 12:19


“He went running in the park”

Means he went to the park in order to exercise by running.

One could say also

“He went running at the park,”

which means the same thing.

If we break the sentence down,

“He went running,” - tells us what he did;

“in the park,” - tells us where he did it.


First, you should cut down on the unnecessary stuff to get down to the exact problem you're having here, if you want to figure this out more easily.

For instance, "He went running in the park." can be cut down to "He went running." (all prepositional phrases are unnecessary, and can be removed for a grammatically correct sentence by definition). "To" is often used as an infinitive with a verb, but "to the park" is a prepositional phrase, so the other sentence can be reduced to "He went to have a run." The other "to have" phrase is indeed an infinitive.

There isn't any difference in the meaning of these two sentences. The second one sounds like passive voice, although it technically isn't, as far as I'm aware. They functionally mean the same thing, but the second one ("to have a run") isn't as common. It may be more common in British English, where "have a(n) (verb used as noun)" is more colloquial, but I'm rather talking out of my rear end at this point.

I can't really explain "why" to you. That would be like asking "Why does the word 'apple' refer to a sweet, red fruit?" It would be a question of the origin of grammar rather than plain etymology, though.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.