This might seem like a trivial case, but I'm unsure whether to use:

"he will come to pick you up"


"he will come pick you up", i.e. without "to".

If it makes any difference, the sentence describes an action that will happen in the future.

The latter version sounds better to me, but I can't argue for it grammatically. Maybe the first version is the correct one, and I've simply gotten used to hearing something that's wrong.

Any help appreciated - thanks!

closed as off-topic by Chenmunka, jimm101, John Clifford, curiousdannii, tchrist Mar 22 '16 at 13:09

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  • There is an important distinction between the two versions. "He will come to pick you up" means he will appear curb-side or wherever to assist you in going wherever it is you're potentially going. You may or may not actually accept the assistance. "He will come pick you up", on the other hand, implies that you have (at least implicitly) agreed to accompany "him" (or can expect to be dragged away against your will). – Hot Licks Mar 22 '16 at 13:02
  • Do note that "will come to pick you up" has a verb "will come" modified by the following prepositional phrase which establishes a reason for the coming. "Will come pick you up", on the other hand, is either the same phrase with "to" elided or an odd verbal phrase which I'm not equipped to further disassemble. – Hot Licks Mar 22 '16 at 13:08

There seem to be two main points here.

The first is is that ‘He will come to pick you up’ is a very unconvincing specific example. I cannot imagine anyone ever saying that, while I can imagine people saying, ‘He will come to fix your boiler,’ or, ‘He will come to steal your children.’

In philosophical analysis mode I would say that, in the given example, coming and picking up are essentially aspects of the same action. That is, you don’t come to pick someone up: in coming, the picking-up is achieved. In the case of fixing your boiler or stealing your children, coming is a means to the end of then doing something else.

Secondly, this also appears to rest partly on a difference between common usages in British English and American. ‘He will come pick you up’ sounds American to me (an experienced speaker of British, and an experienced viewer of American TV).

In the UK it is vastly more likely—in fact I would say it would be normal—for someone to say, ‘He will come and pick you up.’ I have looked around for a while this morning, and can find no grammatical justification for that construction. I hope that my compatriots might at least confirm the very common usage.

In fact we might just as easily and correctly say, ‘He will come and fix your boiler,’ or, ‘He will come and steal your children.’ In the coming, the further result is made at least possible, and perhaps inevitable.

It is also possible that this example might also have suffered accidental contamination from expressions like ‘He will come to regret this,’ meaning that a time will arrive when he understands that this was a bad idea all along. I don't know why I chose a negative example. I might equally have said, ‘He will come to appreciate this.’

In the end, when the guy actually turns up, the important thing might be simply to check whether he is a taxi driver, a plumber or a demon.

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    Actually, "he will come to pick you up about seven-thirty" would be a perfectly normal way to say it, in the US, at least. – Hot Licks Mar 22 '16 at 12:57
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    @HotLicks I'll give you that, to a point: here, coming (i.e. a project of navigating to a place and successfully arriving) is required for the subsequent action (picking up) to become possible. Coming (in the sense of becoming present) and picking up would still be pretty much aspects of the same thing. On the other hand, in the UK your example would carry an odd sense of, 'He will arrive at seven-thirty in order to facilitate your onward transport [at some time yet to be determined].' Saying 'He will come and pick you up at 1930,' however, means that you should be ready to leave. – Captain Cranium Mar 22 '16 at 13:19

to pick up is usually used as an idiom. Honestly the above sentence isn't right logically either. I would preferably use "he'll pick you up" rather than adding "come pick you up" because if the subject is picking up someone then the subject has to go over there and pick that someone up which is given. Mention the subject in the sentence prior to that. For Example:- George is nearby. He'll pick you up. Hope that helped! For more such examples check this website: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/pick+up

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    In American English it is very common to say "he'll come pick you up" even if the more concise "he'll pick you up" would suffice. If nothing else it conveys the idea that he has to travel to you first. – John Zwinck Mar 22 '16 at 10:23

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