Which would you use 'go for a swim' or 'going swimming'?
I am going swimming today.
I go for a swim today.
Both mean the same thing. Both are widely used and understood.
"Go swimming" has always been more common.
Serious swimmers go for a swim. They swim a specific distance or for a specific time and then go home. Those who just like splashing about in the water before lying on the beach or round the pool go swimming.
Basically, both are equally valid.
But English speakers rarely use the simple present tense. You almost never hear someone say, "I go for a swim today." If they already did it, they say, "I went for a swim today." If they haven't done it yet, they say "I will go for a swim today." (Or, "I plan to go for a swim today" or some such.)
Although this is an old post, I have to put in my two bits. What does the ngram above prove? Consider this ngram:
For the phrases 'this book' and 'that book', we can see that 'this book' is more common in the ngram sample than 'that book'. Sorting by the dates of publication of the scanned works in the corpus, this difference has increased for subsamples from recent years. (I hope I said that right.)
In other words; this is a characteristic of the sample; 'this book' appears more frequently in the books and whatnot that google scanned from recent decades than it does in the scanned material from earlier periods.
Do you think that based on this I can deduce an actual change in usage of 'this book' and 'that book' among the overall population of English speakers? Do you think I should let this influence my decision on whether to say 'this book' or 'that book'?
In the same way, just because 'go swimming' and 'go for a swim' have the distributions the ngram above shows, does it tell us anything about actual frequency of use among the overall population?
And what if the phrases 'go swimming' and 'go for a swim' actually have a difference in meaning? Ngrams in such cases are not suitable tools to answer the question asked. Would ngrams of 'cat' and 'dog' tell me which one is a better choice regardless of the sentence's context?
I think "I go for a swim" is more common among native speakers.
Because this style of language is in use in many contexts like
I go for a ride
I go for a sip of coffee
I go for a swim
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