Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which would you use 'go for a swim' or 'going swimming'?

I am going swimming today.

I go for a swim today.

share|improve this question
In English, you do not say "I go for a swim today", you say "I will go for a swim today". –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 20 '12 at 16:47
More likely "I'm going for a swim today". –  slim Jan 20 '12 at 17:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Both mean the same thing. Both are widely used and understood.

"Go swimming" has always been more common.

Ngram: enter image description here

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer
I don't perceive this; I'd need some evidence to believe it. –  slim Jan 20 '12 at 14:49
@slim - I think Barrie is demonstrating when one would use each phrase, since Lukas has used the second one in a non-idiomatic fashion. Sorry if I missed you joke. –  Matt E. Эллен Jan 20 '12 at 16:47
@MattЭллен "I don't perceive this" means, I understand what Barrie is saying, but I don't see it to be true, from the English I hear spoken around me every day. –  slim Jan 20 '12 at 17:19

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.)

share|improve this answer
"I'm going for a swim" sounds natural. –  slim Jan 20 '12 at 17:53
@slim: Agreed. I was going to say that but I forgot. :-) –  Jay Jan 20 '12 at 19:50

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

share|improve this answer
-1: Firstly, @slim's NGram strongly contradicts your assertion that "I go for a swim" is more common among native speakers. Secondly, native speakers would very rarely (if ever) say "I go for a sip of coffee". –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '12 at 15:04
@FumbleFingers: The NGram was on "going for a swim" not "go for a swim". If you change it to "go for a swim" you get this: books.google.com/ngrams/… –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 20 '12 at 16:44
@EnthuDeveloper Let's see your supporting evidence. –  MετάEd Jan 20 '12 at 16:47
@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner: Your link is meaningless - it compares going swimming with go for a swim (different verb tenses as well as using the gerund or straight noun). You've just picked out two "non-comparable" elements from slim's chart, but all this does is obfuscate something that's quite clear in the original - go/going swimming are far more common than the corresponding for a swim versions. –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '12 at 17:29

protected by RegDwigнt Jun 9 '12 at 8:56

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.