Sorry for asking a stupid question. In this context: "A monkey holds a tortoise in his hand when going to the river." Can we say: The tortoise is going to the river?

I think the tortoise was delivered, so technically, we can't say that "It was going to the river"... ???

Please, enlighten me!

  • 1
    This question has been asked before and answered before: the answer then is the answer now: "Yes". 1 It does not matter if the tortoise wants to go to the river or not - it is going there. 2 Grammatically, it does not matter how the tortoise reaches the river. 3 You have used "delivered" as an adjective but this is ambiguous - you mean "Can we say say something is going somewhere if it is being taken there?"
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 9:52
  • Yes, mr Greybeard, It was being taken to the river.
    – MarioWu
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 10:40

2 Answers 2


I would say that "going" implies action on the part of the person or thing that is moving towards the river, so my answer would be No.

I suggest:

The tortoise is on its way to the river.


DPD UK tracking statuses Status Description Your parcel has been delivered
Your parcel is on the vehicle for delivery
The parcel is in transit on its way to its final destination. Ready for collection SMS sent successfully
Ready for collection SMS confirmed as received http://parcelsapp.com/en/carriers/dpd-uk

  • Great! Thank you very much!
    – MarioWu
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 9:47
  • This cannot be so. "He was going to his execution in a prison van."
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 10:52
  • @Greybeard - I would say that, only if he was driving the prison van himself! Otherwise I would say, e.g. "He was en route/in transit/on his way to his execution ..." Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 10:58
  • @chaslyfromUK That sounds very strange and, to me, is no improvement.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 20:02
  • @Greybeard On the other hand, your version sounds strange to me. I think we shall have to agree to disagree! Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 21:52

I don't think it's a stupid question at all.

You could say "the letter (is going/went) to New York," and the fact that it was delivered would be implicit, but that is largely because it is an inanimate object, which bears no potential for agency.

We could use a toddler as an example of a similar level of agency during delivery, i.e. "little Mikey is going to his grandmother's tomorrow." Still we find that the delivery would be implicitly understood, because a toddler's unaccompanied journey across town is not feasible.

But still, we could readily imagine a tortoise making its own way to a nearby river, so "the tortoise was going to the river" needs more context for anyone to understand that it was being delivered.

If you were to say that the tortoise went to the moon, that would be another matter.

  • Thank you, I learned something!
    – MarioWu
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 10:43
  • This is not the point of the question. Unfortunately, the OP has not given the context that appeared in his earlier question on the same matter. The question was (in shortened form "If there are four monkeys who are going to the river, and each monkey has a tortoise in each hand, how many animals are going to the river?" (In this case, the answer is "12".)
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 10:55
  • @Greybeard I'll concede that I could have prefaced my post with "yes," but I felt that it was implied. Is this what you meant?
    – Wehage
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 11:07
  • @Wehage The OP has edited the question. At the time I answered there was no context. I had had the advantage of having read the OP's earlier post -you did not. In context, "going" means "heading in the direction of."
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 20:12
  • @Wehage I have found the original question that gives context: english.stackexchange.com/questions/536877/…
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 8:56

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