Author Topic: The difference between saying “Whenever we go (for, on) vacation...”  (Read 6594 times)

Joe Carillo

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The following question was posted in my Personal Messages Box by chiccoloco, new Forum member (February 20, 2013):

Hi, Mr. Carillo! I’m one of your avid followers. I find your site helpful especially when I find myself confused with some grammar things in my job as an online English teacher.

I wrote to ask if there’s any difference between saying “Whenever we go for vacation...” or “Whenever we go on vacation...” Are the prepositions “for” and “on” correct in both sentences? Or is it a matter of a missing article in the first phrase?

I hope you could shed some light on this. Thanks.

My reply to chiccoloco (February 23, 2013):

The expressions “Whenever we go for vacation...” or “Whenever we go on vacation...” are practically semantically equivalent ways of saying “Whenever we take a vacation,” which, of course, means spending a period from home or business in travel or recreation. The use of the prepositions “for” and “on” is grammatically correct in both sentence constructions. The sense of the two expressions is slightly different, however. The expression that uses “for” has the nuance that the speaker is referring to the vacation as the purpose for taking time out from home or business; on the other hand, the expression that uses “on” has the nuance that the speaker is referring to the vacation as the act of taking the vacation itself. This distinction, however, largely resides in the mind of the speaker; to the listener, that distinction would be hardly discernible. Whether “for” or “on” is used in saying it, the speaker will be understood to be taking a vacation.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 08:14:37 AM by Joe Carillo »