"Going on holiday" - a verb at clause level?

[color=blue]At CLAUSE LEVEL, if a child were say “Next month I am going on holiday”, can we regard “going on holiday” as the verb, given that the child is likely to be using that phrase as a unit rather than selecting “on holiday” as an object for the verb “going”?

(Please be gentle with me, I have only just registered and I am new to this kind of thing!)

Hi Hazztyp

I’d say that ‘on holiday’ is a prepositional phrase which functions adverbially.

Thanks Amy!

That sounds entirely appropriate, but unless I am mistaken that is an analysis at phrase level, whereas I am looking for an analysis at clause level “a la David Crystal” sense of the term. Sorry if I am not asking the right question or asking the right question the wrong way…

I never heard anyone saing going on holiday …
I know that they use :
I will spend the holiday… (place, city etc.)
I will go on vacation…

I see the sense in that analysis, yes.

Thank you Gabriela

Although I totally agree with you about the correctness of your quoted phrases, they are seldom heard being used in speech here where I live in England. Believe me, “I am going on Holiday…” is a very common utterance. No doubt you are used to hearing many phrases that would sound unfamiliar to me!

It may be relevant to anyone wishing to help me that this question is asked in the context of analysing a child’s utterances in order to assess the level of their language - in this case at clause level, not at phrase level. An important distinction, since (as I understand) a phrase can constitute either a “subject”, a “verb” or an “object” at CLAUSE level, e.g.

The little girl (subject)
was taking good care of (verb)
all of the rabbits (object)


Thanks Molly - I do think you understand me.

I had a prolonged and eventually unfruitful “debate” with my very experienced and knowledgeable lecturer about this! I am neither experienced nor knowledgeable in this field, but I just felt that in terms of assessing this child’s language level it was a distinct possibility that the child was not so much demonstrating knowledge of the verb “going” plus an object, but knowledge of a verb “going on holiday” that I believe to be increasingly perceived in spoken terms as a discrete all-in-one “action”.

I am of course still open to correction regarding this feeling…



Hi Harry

OK, I see what you’re getting at. Yes, it seems to me that calling ‘on holiday’ the ‘object’ of the verb ‘go’ is wrong, and ‘go on holiday’ certainly is a common collocation, but I suppose a child might view the structure in all of the following sentences as being the same:

I am going on holiday.
I am sitting on a chair.
I am looking up a word.
I am throwing a ball.

In addition, if a child has any command of tense at all, it seems to me that the child would have to be separating ‘go on holiday’ into two distinct units (‘go’ and ‘on holiday’).

Just my two cents.