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My significant other tells me that I'm not "going to go" to the shops, I'm "going to" the shops, and beats me mercilessly when I say that.

Is this not correct? I might not be going to the shops until later, is my point!

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There is a slight difference in literal meaning between the two phrases, though it's not very significant:

Going to the shops = you are at this moment on your way to the shops, or (more colloquially) you are planning to go, as in: "I'm going to the shops this afternoon."

Going to go to the shops = you are just planning to go to the shops. Here, going means something closer to "planning."

All that said: If this is the worst fault your significant other can find with you, then you're doing pretty well!

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+1 for the last line. Ahah, nah, it was a good answer (but the last line sparked it off.) :D –  Alenanno Apr 14 '11 at 21:42
    
Is it really colloquial to use the present continuous to express near future action? "The president is speaking in Florida this afternoon." This sort of construction also seems formally acceptable to me. –  Kosmonaut Apr 14 '11 at 22:16
    
@Kosmonaut -- as far as I can see, in a 'neutral' style of English, it's the usual way to indicate a planned future action; I don't see what's so colloquial about it either. –  Neil Coffey Apr 14 '11 at 22:29
    
Although I agree with this answer, The phrase "I'm going to go" quite often stands in for "I'm going to". When taking to my significant other, If ask what she's doing at 5p.m. she answers "I'm going to go to the store" –  crasic Apr 14 '11 at 23:46
    
Remember, "Going to" if followed by a verb, means that you will do something in the future (in this case you'll "go")... And, "going to the shops" means you are GOING right now. –  Ed. Brazil Apr 15 '11 at 14:17
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"I'm going to the shops" means you are in the process of going right now. "I'm going to go to the shops" means you will be going to the shops at some point in the future, but are not in the process at the moment.

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Same as my answer but 14 secs faster ;) –  z7sg Ѫ Apr 14 '11 at 21:39
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I think the confusion might have to do with the double use of the same verb in the phrase. We feel that this does not "sound right", but grammatically it is correct.

This afternoon I'm going to read a book, but right now I'm going to the shops.

versus

This afternoon I'm going to go to the shops, but right now I'm baking a cake.

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