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I came across the line, "he went on explain (a metaphor) in the clip," at the end of the following sentence of the article, "How to insult your political opponents" appearing in New Yorker magazine (May 3).

"Crucify is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean- they'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they'd find the first five guys they saw and they'd crucify them," the official, Al Armendariz, said in a speech he gave in 2010. "Then that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years."

This was a metaphor for the deterrent effect the E.P.A. was going for, "he went on explain in the clip."

I was in understanding that "go on" is followed by "to + infinitive" or gerund.

Can "go on" take a verb root as its objective or complement? Is it right to say "he went on speak a gossip," "she went on play piano," "I went on write a letter"?
Conversely, are "he went on speaking/playing/writing," or "he went on to speak/to play/to write" wrong?

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Too localised. It's just a misprint. – FumbleFingers May 3 '12 at 12:01
Just FYI - gossip is an uncountable noun, so does not collocate with a, i.e. you'd say "he went on to speak some gossip" – Matt E. Эллен May 3 '12 at 12:26
@Mat3nneH. Having your comment, I consulted with dictionaries at hand and online. OALD defines ‘gossip’ as 1. (n). (uncountable) Talk or stories about other people’s private lives that may be unkind or true. 2. (countable, usually singular) A conversation about other people and private lives. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as n. (singular or U) Conversation or report about other people’s private lives which might be unkind or not true with a sample, ‘Tom and Lyn sat in the kitchen having a good gossip about their friends.’ Thus it seems to me ‘gossip’ can be used both in C and U form by case. – Yoichi Oishi May 3 '12 at 20:53
@FumbleFingers. The pity is that we (maybe be better to say I) non-native English learners cannot tell the expression that is an obvious error to native speakers from the right one, or the expression that passes by an informal or abbreviated form. I’ve been really benefitted by answers and comments from you and other EL&U users, and I find the great value of the site in it. The matter that looks very local to you seriously matters non-native English learners sometimes. I appreciate if you could be tolerant with my naive and local questions. – Yoichi Oishi May 3 '12 at 21:27
@Yoichi Oishi: I certainly don't object to the question being asked - as you say, how else will you know what's going on? I voted to close because you already have several answers pointing out what's obvious to native speakers - it's a misprint, and there's not really anything else to say about it. More answers aren't really going to tell you anything beyond that unless they drift off the original question. Which would be tempting, since that first sentence is pretty rubbishy English, and deserves to be taken to task! – FumbleFingers May 3 '12 at 21:46
up vote 5 down vote accepted

No, it is not. I suspect a misprint. On the other hand, go on may indeed be followed by the -ing form of the verb.

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Are you sure it is a -ing form of the verb, Barrie ? In I go on singing I translate singing as a noun, the activity. If both are possible, what is the difference ? – speedyGonzales May 3 '12 at 12:59
@speedyGonzales: I use '-ing form of the verb' as a shorthand way of describing all words ending in '-ing' that derive from a verb. As it happens, I would say that 'singing' in your example is a non-finite verb, not a noun, in that it describes an action. A better way of showing the difference might be in the two sentences 'I don't like you singing' (verb) and 'I don't like your singing' (noun). – Barrie England May 3 '12 at 13:31
@ Barrie England. I thought both ‘go on +gerund (_ing) and ‘to infinitive’ are possible. But is there difference of the meaning between ‘go on expaining’ and ‘go on to explain’ – Yoichi Oishi May 3 '12 at 23:48
@Yoichi Oishi: 'Go on explaining' means 'continue explaining'. 'Go on to explain' means 'explain after completion of the previous action' (I say 'action', but the action in this case will usually be writing or speaking.) – Barrie England May 4 '12 at 5:57

It's a typo. "to" is missing after "went on".

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It is certainly a misprint, as other people have said before me.

To address the second part of your question, there is a difference between he went on speaking and he went on to speak.

In the first sentence someone simply started speaking at some time in the past and continued to do so; in the second someone had been doing something/speaking about something and then shifted to something else.

In your example, after having illustrated what the Romans did to subjugate conquered villages and populations, the official provided further explanation by adding something to what he had previously said.

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+1. I did't know there was a second part! – Kris May 3 '12 at 12:16

First, this part is certainly a typo:

he went on explain in the clip

It should be "he went on to explain in the clip".

The beginning of the sentence isn't quite correct either. "Crucify is kind of like..." should be "Crucifying is kind of like...". I mention this because it is clear that there are typo's (maybe grammatical errors, unclear though) here, regardless of who made them.

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Thanks for detailed answer. But as I was under impression that ‘into’ is a preposition, not adverb, I checked several dictionaries. Merriam Webster defines ‘into’ as a ‘preposition’ used as a function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion: Examples: came into the house, enter into an alliance All of OED,OALED,and Cambridge Dictionary define ‘into’ simply as a preposition. – Yoichi Oishi May 3 '12 at 23:28
Oh, Yoichi I am so embarrassed! You are correct, and more than correct, by virtue of the combined weight of Merriam Webster, OED, OALED and Cambridge Dictionary. Sigh, I apologize. – Ellie Kesselman May 4 '12 at 11:41
@YoichiOishi However, I thank you very much for taking the time to point this out to me. If you had not done so, my original answer would be left here in full ignominious glory. I am appreciative. – Ellie Kesselman May 4 '12 at 14:27

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