From Longman dictionary, We know that:

go out to: (move abroad) to travel to another country in order to live and work there. example: They are looking for nurses to go out to Saudi Arabia.

I am not sure about the meaning of the above example. The nurses move to Saudi Arabia, or "They" move to Saudi Arabia and want to get Nurses job.

  • @cardinal, I am grateful to you for correcting my question, I also can benefit from your correction. – cody Jun 16 '16 at 13:04
  • 1
    you may want to wait for a while before accepting an answer. For more details, see Not so fast! (When should I accept my answer?) – Damkerng T. Jun 16 '16 at 13:13
  • @cody You don't need to – Cardinal Jun 16 '16 at 13:59
  • @Cardinal I diagree with you. If we wait for other answers and then decide to accept one, we will encourage answerers to try their best to write more thoughtful and authentic answers. And what would be the result, of cource an outstanding raise in quality! Who will benefit, all especially questioniners. – user33000 Jun 16 '16 at 15:06
  • @Sina Take it easy bro, I'm just saying that you don't need to appreciate anything ! :) – Cardinal Jun 16 '16 at 15:10

Consider the situation that they (whoever they are) are looking for nurses in their current location, for example the UK, to go elsewhere (to Saudi Arabia) to work.

Neelam's answer is close, but this sentence implies that they might not go with the nurses, but instead that the nurses go without them, perhaps on their behalf.

For example, in a conversation it could be:

"My boss is looking for nurses to go out to Saudi Arabia, would you perhaps be interested?"

So this sentence means that they (a group of people, maybe a company) want nurses to go work in Saudi Arabia for them.

For context, I'm a native Australian English speaker.

  • As a suggestion, remove what you written in the last sentence from your answers. – Cardinal Jun 16 '16 at 11:58
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    Looking on meta, it seems to be consensus that it's good practice to provide information about where your English is from so as to provide regional context. However I'm open to information indicating otherwise :) – Daniel Porteous Jun 16 '16 at 12:03
  • I am agree with you, but as far as I know, this is not a very frequent phenomenon among the answers ! – Cardinal Jun 16 '16 at 12:10
  • @DanielWesleyPorteous your explanation is easy to understand, thanks a lot. Thank all of you. – cody Jun 16 '16 at 13:06
  • No problem, glad to help. Made sure to answer the question and provide the correct meaning :) – Daniel Porteous Jun 16 '16 at 13:19

Grammatical analyses (object, complement, modifier) aside, go out to {some place} reflects the speaker's attitude that the place is remote.

A speaker in New York City might say:

They are going out to Alaska to live closer to Nature.

We are going out to the country for the weekend.

Remoteness is relative.


Your first interpretation is correct: the nurses are going to Saudi Arabia.

Remember that English word order is usually just Subject, Verb, Object. The subject of this sentence is They, and the verb (or verb phrase) is are...and what are they? Looking for something. And the object that they're looking for is nurses to go out to Saudi Arabia. So the object of this sentence is nurses: they are looking for nurses, and to go out to Saudi Arabia is a prepositional phrase that explains something about the object.

If the sentence had the other meaning - that they want to go to Saudi Arabia and get jobs - it would have to be phrased like

  • "They are looking to go out to Saudi Arabia for nursing jobs" or

  • "They are looking to go out to Saudi Arabia to get nursing jobs" or

  • "They are looking to go out to Saudi Arabia to become nurses" or maybe

  • "They are looking to go out to Saudi Arabia as nurses"

But never "they are looking for nurses". Note that whatever they are looking for always comes right after the words looking for.

  • I think you grammarian guys use the jargon "modify". In this case, to go out to Saudi Arabia is a prepositional phrase that modifies the object. Am I right? – Cardinal Jun 16 '16 at 12:04
  • I don't think this explains the actual meaning of the sentence very well. Regardless of grammar jargon, the actual meaning is that they are looking for available nurses to go to Saudi Arabia, with the heavy implication that they will be doing something there on their behalf. I think it's important to emphasise that there is someone else, they, who are looking for nurses, implying the availability of an opening for some type of job for nurses. – Daniel Porteous Jun 16 '16 at 12:10
  • "Looking to (do something)" and "looking for (something)" are different idioms. "Looking to (do something)" means "wanting to (do something)" or "planning to (do something)". "Looking for (something)" means "trying to find (something)". Perhaps the OP was trying to parse the sentence as if it was "They are looking to go out to SA, looking for nurses", meaning "They are planning to go out to SA, and when they are there they will look for nurses". Presumably the context would explain why they wanted to look for nurses in SA, rather than somewhere else in the world. – alephzero Jun 16 '16 at 14:07

Your problem is the word "they". There is no particular group of people who are "they" - it's just the way that English says "unspecified people are looking for" in the active voice.

In the passive voice, it's clearer. "Nurses are being looked for to go to Saudi Arabia." It's clear that there is no particular person doing the looking.

Some languages have a word which covers this in the active voice. In French for instance, we would say "on cherche". English used to have this too, with the word "one" - it used to be possible to say "one is looking for nurses". This has long since fallen out of use though.

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