What's the difference between "go on holiday" and "go for a holiday" ?

  • I don't think there is one. But then again, I'm a native American English speaker and this phrasing is of the British type of English. In the US, we'd say, "go on vacation." If one said, "go for a vacation," it would be less formal than "go on vacation." – StatsStudent Jun 7 '17 at 7:51
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    'Holiday' has the 'break from work' and the 'world tour etc' senses. 'Go for a holiday' demands the second sense; in 'BrE', 'go on holiday' is ambiguous. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 7 '17 at 8:18
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    Also, in AmE, "go on vacation" or "take a vacation" would focus on not doing your regular activity while "go for a vacation" would typically be used in reference to a particular destination. "Holiday" is not interchangeable with "vacation" in AmE, it refers to a religious observance or a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event. – fixer1234 Jun 7 '17 at 8:18
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    To me go for a holiday sounds quite unidiomatic. Go to Ruritania for a holiday, yes. I'm here for a holiday, yes. Let's/I'd like to/ Why not/etc Go for a holiday to me, sounds wrong. – Robbie Goodwin Jun 7 '17 at 21:45

It is the difference between using the 'countable' form of 'holiday', and the 'uncountable' form.

In the countable form, a 'holiday' is specifically the entire trip - for example, a holiday to Disneyland. This is the 'go for a holiday [in Disneyland]' form.

In the uncountable form, 'holiday' is the time away. This is the 'go on holiday [for a few days]' form. The measure ('for a few days') is optional.

There is no real difference in the overall meaning of the two forms, though the first might be felt to slightly emphasise the fact that the holiday has a specific fixed length.

Of course, Americans can use the word 'vacation' in the same way that the British use 'holiday'.

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