Why do we say "I would have gone travelling" instead of "I would have gone to travel"?

Because "would" is a modal verb, we usually say that it is followed by an infinitive, not a gerund. Why does the second sentence sound incorrect?

  • Go and travel both imply making a journey. You don't go somewhere in order to travel. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 7:28
  • This is probably one of the 'go fishing' group of [go + ing-form] constructions. 'She's gone singing with the choir.' / 'Are you coming shopping tomorrow?' / 'He often goes fishing on Thursdays'. You don't say "I am going to shop in ten minutes". Such constructions are known by some as 'verbs in phase'. 'She sat knitting.' 'He stood watching.' The verbs describe two simultaneous or near-simultaneous 'activities', very closely associated in describing what the agent is doing. I would have gone travelling/fishing/hiking/shooting/shopping/dancing .... Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:57
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    Does this answer your question? Do the -ing and to-infinitive "verbs" that follow catenative verbs always take the grammatical function of "noun"? Note that it's the 'go travelling' string that needs considering first here; the modal does 'take' go, have gone, as usual. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:00
  • When "would" and various forms of the verb "to go" are followed by another verb in the infinitive then the second verb either has an explicit object or an implied one so the second verb and its object become a noun phrase acting as the object of "go". For example "I would have gone to watch the parade but it was cancelled" and "If I had known there was a parade I would have gone to watch". In the case of "travelling" there is no object so it should not be in the infinitive and is, instead, replaced by the gerund as the object of "go".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 8:28
  • Let us not lose sight of a peculiarity of the verb travel in relation to go: one can fish, shop, or watch without going anywhere, but one cannot travel without going. I would edit out the go entirely, and use neither of these alternatives. Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


Modals are only followed by the infinitive in the present tense. What you are looking at here is a "past modal".

Past modals take the past participle of the verb.

I would have gone home.

You should have slept longer.

He might have listened to me.

Also note that the object verb in the sentence is "gone" (the past participle of "go") not "travel". "travelling" is a gerund because it is the object of "gone". The use of the gerund is nothing to do with the modal verb, and would be used in the same way without it.

I am going travelling.

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