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Language changes, as everything does. Doubly important, then, that these members have their club. “This is a full-time job for me, but I don’t mind,” Mr. Allen said. “I see these people get satisfaction, a place where to go and where to meet. They sit down and talk to each other.”

I have read a lot of pieces on The New York Times where, as in the quote above, the phrase “a place where” is followed by/from an infinitive. So I presume this structure is “idiomatic” English. Nevertheless, I’m under the impression that it is better to use “can” in these case. So, in reference to the above piece, we could say:

Language changes, as everything does. Doubly important, then, that these members have their club. “This is a full-time job for me, but I don’t mind,” Mr. Allen said. “I see these people get satisfaction, a place where they can go and where they can meet. They sit down and talk to each other.”

Can anybody explain what the difference is between these constructions?

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    I like your second construction better with can, a simpler way of phrasing it would be "a place to go and meet". I don't have an explanation though, so I don't have an answer to post. – Trish Rempel Mar 8 '13 at 19:45
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    It's not idiomatic. I note that the speaker is not a native English speaker, but an immigrant from Hungary, two of whose sons still speak Hungarian (albeit 'with an accent'), and that he is president of a social club for Hungarian immigrants; so it appears that he still maintains his mother tongue. Perhaps a Magyar-speaking user could tell us what the idiom would be in that language? – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 8 '13 at 19:51
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    I think maybe a place where to go is an Americanism. It seriously disturbs my delicate (British) ear. It's not the infinitive that bothers me - it's the excess word where. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 8 '13 at 21:41
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    @FumbleFingers I can assure you it's not a General Americanism, though for all I know it's current on the Upper East Side. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 8 '13 at 22:16
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    @Fumble: It's of interest because it's just the kind of non-native-speaker error that English language learners make: they use structures & literally translated idioms from their native language when speaking English. It's typical when learning a new language to use the structure of your native language when speaking it. When I started to learn Chinese here in Taiwan, I consistently used Japanese syntax. – user264 Mar 8 '13 at 23:16
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I think that we may be missing some context. It appears that this is a direct quote from a newspaper article or similar. The person being quoted (as pointed out by @StoneyB) may not be a native English speaker, which may explain the unusual syntax.

If I were to rewrite the sentence for maximum clarity, I would write, "I see these people get satisfaction, a place to go and to meet. They sit down and talk to each other.”

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