I have read a passage as following:

Most buildings are built for people to live in, work in, or go to school in. But some buildings are built just to hang pictures in. These buildings are called art museums. In all parts of the world, cities and towns have art museums to hang pictures in.

You may think of a picture as a decoration for your house, your school, or your father's office. But sometimes pictures are not just decorations. Sometimes they are famous works of art. And, art museums are places where you can go to see works of art that have been painted by famous artists - some who lived long ago and some who are living today.

I think the sentence should be : Most buildings are built for people to live in, work in, or study in. How could "go to school in a building" be right? It's so weird.

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    There is no question here. You need to explain why you think "go to school in" would not be correct. Otherwise, there it is, in a book, so it must be correct, right?
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:34
  • @ J.R. I don't think the sentences from the book should be right.However, It's not easy for me to explain why it's wrong in English.But I have edited my question already.
    – user48070
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:49
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    For the record, I ain't sayin' that sentences from a book are automatically correct, either. But, if they get published, we can assume an editor has looked at them, and decided that there must be some good reason for letting them stand. That's why it's imperative to explain your source of confusion. If an editor, author, or poet has deliberately used an "incorrect" construction, there's got to be a good reason for it, and you can't leave us to guess why you're confused by something others have thought was fine as-is.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 9:56
  • @J.R.Yes, I agree with you. I try to explain it in the grammar rule.But it's not easy to do that.Anyway, thanks for your answer.
    – user48070
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 10:02
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    @J.R. ROADS are built to go to school. Once you're at school, you study. Sure you can cross through a mall that is across your way if you go to school, but unless the building contains both the school and your home, it wasn't built to go to school in.
    – SF.
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


I suspect that what is confusing you is that you have encountered the phrase go to school only in contexts where go has its ordinary sense of “move from one place to another”, such as

I go to school by bicycle.

But American schoolchildren* rarely have occasion to use go to school in this sense. For most Americans going to school has a much broader sense.

The author contrasts go to school with live and work, which have similar senses here. Obviously you work at many places, including (I hope) at school and at home. Work here means “perform an economic role”. Equally obviously, you do not restrict your biological existence to your home; you live at work and at school, too, even if those don‘t seem like much of a life. Live here means “perform a domestic role”—there is an enormous popular literature on achieving “work/life balance”.

Similarly, go to school designates one of the major social roles: attending school, performing the role of student.

What is your occupation? ... I go to school.

Consequently, “a building to go to school in” is perfectly ordinary: it means a building where one performs school activities.

Study would not work at all in this context. Aside from the fact that American schools include many activities which have nothing to do with academics, the term is too narrow. For American schoolchildren intransitive study does not mean to engage in academic activities; it means to cease all other activities and concentrate, by yourself, on your schoolwork. In fact most US secondary schools designate distinct periods during the school day for just such studying; for historical reasons these periods are called study hall.

* The passage was clearly originally written for children: note the reference to “your father’s office”. The hypercorrective comma after And suggests a US origin to me.

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    In case anyone's wondering both senses of "go to school" would also be understood in British English. Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 21:19

It seems fine to me, I've certainly seen "go to school in" in many contexts and I don't see any reason why it is not grammatical.


'Go to school' is equivalent to saying 'go to say and study.'

Over the time, we tend to remove the obvious part. There are many other examples as well.

'Pick up the phone' implies that 'pick up the phone and answer.'

'Go to the bed' means 'go to the bed and sleep.'

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