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What is the explanation for why we say "I'm going downtown" instead of "I'm going to downtown?"

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, choster, MετάEd, Matt Эллен, Kristina Lopez May 8 '13 at 17:29

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There you are using a noun to specify a location. If you think that makes it an adverb, that so be it. Today I was late going downtown, but tomorrow I’ll be even later going downtowner. –  tchrist May 7 '13 at 23:36
    
Yes, downtown can be used adverbially. It is also listed as an adverb in various dictionaries. –  Cerberus May 8 '13 at 4:12
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1 Answer 1

"Go downtown" is similar to "go overseas", "go abroad", "go bankrupt", etc., in the sense that while it looks like a noun - and indeed it can act as one occasionally - it usually functions as an adverb.

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Bankrupt usually functions as an adverb? Really? –  tchrist May 8 '13 at 6:00
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In a similar way to bananas. –  Edwin Ashworth May 8 '13 at 7:58
    
@EdwinAshworth So someone who has gone grey has turned grey into an adverb then? I don’t think they have, because grey refers to them, not to their going. Similarly with bankrupt. –  tchrist May 8 '13 at 12:04
    
Perhaps I'd better give up trying to be subtle. –  Edwin Ashworth May 8 '13 at 20:29
    
I'd classify constructions such as go mad / crazy / bananas / grey / bankrupt as link-like structures (go = turn, become, having more semantic content than be) with predicative adjectives. Go downtown / out / in / home / abroad / overseas employ go in its primary, physical-travel sense. It is probably better to lump the directional terms as such rather than as true adverbs. This is probably wise for locatives and temporal completers also. –  Edwin Ashworth May 8 '13 at 20:57
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