In English, we use the grammar structure go +ing to talk about leisure activities, or activities we do in our free time.
The go + gerund grammar structure confuses most language learners, from beginners to fluent speakers!
Most non-native speakers have trouble with this structure because it includes the verb “to go” plus the -ing form of the action verb (the gerund).
We are used to using the infinitive form after “go” when describing future plans, so many English learners accidentally add “to” when trying to use the go +ing structure.
For example, even my most advanced students sometimes say, “I am going to shopping this weekend.”
What they actually want to say is, “I am going shopping this weekend.”
As the graphic above shows you, the verb “to go” changes based on the subject and desired tense.
The “-ing” form of the verb stays the same, no matter what tense you use!
Here are some more examples:
- Present Simple: He goes running every day after work.
- Present Continuous: They are going skiing this afternoon.
- Present Perfect: I have gone camping five times this summer.
- Present Perfect Continuous: She has been going hiking a lot recently.
- Future with “To Be Going To”: My sister is going to go surfing in Peru next year.
- Future with “Will”: Sure, I’ll go shopping with you!
- Past Simple: We went horseback riding during our last vacation.
It is important to mention that go +ing is used to indicate the whole activity.
When I talk about going swimming, I am describing the entire experience – wearing a swimsuit, putting on sunscreen, going to the pool or beach, swimming laps or enjoying the waves, getting wet, drying off afterwards.
Go +ing gives us a mental image of the complete activity.
(For more information on how to know when to use the gerund and when to use the infinitive, be sure to check out my post on recognizing when to use them!)
If I just wanted to talk about the action of swimming, I would simply use the verb “to swim.”
For example, “I swam ten laps in the pool today.”
In this case, I am only describing the action of swimming, not the experience.
Finally, we use go +ing with verbs that are NOT followed by an object.
For example, it is not possible to say “I’m going playing cards this weekend.”
“Cards” is the object of the verb “play,” so the structure no longer works.
Instead, we would say, “I’m playing cards this weekend.”
Because go +ing is so common in English (especially when making small talk about weekend plans), it is extremely important to use it correctly.
Improving your usage of go +ing is an easy way to sound more natural in English.
In the comments below, answer this question with an activity using the go +ing grammar structure: What are you going to do this weekend?
Want to use grammar more naturally? Click here to explore my other resources on using grammar structures like a native speaker.