Is “go to school in” correct?

I have read a passage as following:

Most buildings are built for people to live in, work in, or go to school in. But some buildings are built just to hang pictures in. These buildings are called art museums. In all parts of the world, cities and towns have art museums to hang pictures in.

You may think of a picture as a decoration for your house, your school, or your father’s office. But sometimes pictures are not just decorations. Sometimes they are famous works of art. And, art museums are places where you can go to see works of art that have been painted by famous artists – some who lived long ago and some who are living today.

I think the sentence should be :
Most buildings are built for people to live in, work in, or study in.
How could "go to school in a building" be right? It’s so weird.


I suspect that what is confusing you is that you have encountered the phrase go to school only in contexts where go has its ordinary sense of “move from one place to another”, such as

I go to school by bicycle.

But American schoolchildren* rarely have occasion to use go to school in this sense. For most Americans going to school has a much broader sense.

The author contrasts go to school with live and work, which have similar senses here. Obviously you work at many places, including (I hope) at school and at home. Work here means “perform an economic role”. Equally obviously, you do not restrict your biological existence to your home; you live at work and at school, too, even if those don‘t seem like much of a life. Live here means “perform a domestic role”—there is an enormous popular literature on achieving “work/life balance”.

Similarly, go to school designates one of the major social roles: attending school, performing the role of student.

What is your occupation? … I go to school.

Consequently, “a building to go to school in” is perfectly ordinary: it means a building where one performs school activities.

Study would not work at all in this context. Aside from the fact that American schools include many activities which have nothing to do with academics, the term is too narrow. For American schoolchildren intransitive study does not mean to engage in academic activities; it means to cease all other activities and concentrate, by yourself, on your schoolwork. In fact most US secondary schools designate distinct periods during the school day for just such studying; for historical reasons these periods are called study hall.

* The passage was clearly originally written for children: note the reference to “your father’s office”. The hypercorrective comma after And suggests a US origin to me.

Source : Link , Question Author : user48070 , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

Leave a Comment