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

I am going swimming today.

I go for a swim today.

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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
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More likely "I'm going for a swim today". –  slim Jan 20 '12 at 17:56
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4 Answers

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

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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.

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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 Эллен Jan 20 '12 at 16:47
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@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
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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.)

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"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
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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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-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
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@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
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@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
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protected by RegDwigнt Jun 9 '12 at 8:56

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