A man, who lost his son because of a brain tumor, says this to the owner of the house:

Listen, if you ever go to sell this place, let me know first because I would like to buy it.

BBC-man wants to die in the same room as his son

Why "....ever go to sell...." instead of "....ever sell..."? Is this a special usage?

2 Answers 2


ever go to {verb} means "are ever about to take the first step to begin {verbing}", as distinct from merely contemplating {verbing} and distinct from actually being in the act of {verbing}.

If you ever go to sell your house...

If you ever go to buy a boat...

The locution is usually accompanied by something the speaker would like you to do, or would recommend that you do, before you actually take that first step.

That's when "you" are involved: If you ever go to {verb}.

But "go to {verb}" expresses the idea of taking the step one takes when one is about to do the action of {verb} while not yet in the act of {verbing}

He went to take a swing at my head but slipped on a banana peel.

So that means something like he drew back his arm with the intention of punching me in the head but slipped on a banana peel before he actually began the punch.


Sell the house means—or anyway can mean—complete the transaction, thereby ceding ownership (at which point the man would have missed his opportunity). Go to sell the house here means consider selling, prepare to sell, or begin the process of selling.

  • Yes. I don't know why you got a downvote (fixed that). Go to sell the house, put the house on the market, put the house up for sale, etc. Commented Jul 8 at 19:34
  • It is highly likely that when I go to sell my house or potentially rent it out in the future, Sam will be the first person I go to. Should I involve my neighbors when I go to sell my house? Will I have to tear my walls open when I go to sell my house? am having a single storey extension put on the back of my house approx 120 sq ft. When I go to sell my house in a year or two... will I need to produce an engineers cert for the extension? (roughly 50-50 US/British) Commented Jul 8 at 19:40
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    I am the downvoter because I don't think you fully addressed the OP's question. What is the difference between "if you ever go to sell the house" and "if you ever sell the house"? Is this a "special usage"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 8 at 19:59
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    I find it a decidedly odd usage. Commented Jul 9 at 7:58
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    @Mari-LouA I'll add a second countering up vote. I'm is NZ but we spik da Kings English as well as any, albeit with a somewhat unique accent. I consider "go to sell" and "sell" very different and Paul's explication close enough to correct. I think the difference is "go to sell" is at the very beginning of the process versus setting the process in motion. Paul's ceding ownership is a step to o far but not worthy of a downvote (IMHO, as ever :-) ). Commented Jul 9 at 14:37

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