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Hi everbody,

Is it possible to use the prepositon TO instead of IN in the following sentence. The hearer is physically present at this place while being asked the question!

"Have you ever been IN California before?"

COLLINS claims that "have been TO" can only be used when the visitor is NOT there anymore.
However SWAN (Practical English Usage) accepts the following sentence as being grammatically correct: "Have you been to Scotland before? (The hearer is probably in Scotland)" p. 198

Can you think of any other grammar books with fixed rules on the correct usage of IN and TO with places?

Thanks for your help

Wolfgang
Comments  
Hi, Wolfgang,

Have you ever been TO California before? Emotion: wink
Have you ever been IN California before?Emotion: sad

If you insist on the using of 'in', I would say this way:
Have you ever stayed IN California before? Emotion: wink

Does that help?

"Have you ever been to/in PLACE before?"

I can only give you the American usage that I am familiar with as a life-long speaker of American English. Both "to" and "in" are acceptable, no matter who is where. I'm not sure you can find a grammar book that is quite so detailed, but if you do, please let me know, because I would also like to see what sort of analysis can be found there.

It seems that Collins is claiming that "have been in" and "have been to" are separate idioms. And yet, it's not clear what either is supposed to mean. My first attempt to analyze it included the idea that "have been to", according to Collins, is restricted to the idea of "have made a round trip to". "made a round trip to PLACE" is possible, but not "*made a round trip in PLACE".

I don't find that analysis very satisfactory, however, in explaining the supposedly required position of the visitor when the utterance occurs.

Be assured that native speakers are much less pedantic than grammar books, and will graciously accept either preposition in the example you cite. (And if you ask them to explain it, they will either end up tongue-tied or looking at you as if you had two heads!Emotion: smile )
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Wolfgang,

After thinking about this further, I believe I have a better explanation.

Conversation not in California:

A1) *Have you ever gone in California before?
A2) Have you ever gone to California before?
A3) *Have you ever come in California before?
A4) *Have you ever come to California before?

A5) Have you ever been in California before?
????????A6) Have you ever been to California before?

Conversation in California:

B1) *Have you ever gone in California before?
B2) *Have you ever gone to California before?
B3) *Have you ever come in California before?
B4) Have you ever come to California before?

B5) Have you ever been in California before?
????????B6) Have you ever been to California before?

Collins allows A6 but not B6 because they restrict the definition of the idiom "been to" to "gone to". Collins does not allow the possibility of "been to" being a substitute for "come to".

Swan allows both A6 and B6 (and many native speakers would accept them as well) because Swan allows either "gone to" or "come to" to be the understood meaning of "been to".

Jim
A6) Have you ever been to California before?
B6) Have you ever been to California before?


Have you ever been there? ( there refers to California, and 'to' is not allowed in front of 'there.' Put another way, there=to California.)

Therefore, I generate this sentence.
Have you ever been to Californa?

Thanks for your great examples, as always.

pastel.
Hi CalifJim,

Thanks a lot for putting so much effort into throwing light on that tricky question. Now it's up to me to convince my Austrian opponents including one pedantic Linguistics Professor at Vienna University that there is no hard and fast rule to that particular grammar question.

cheers

Wolfgang
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Convince a linguistics professor at Vienna University, you say?
That's probably not going to be easy!
Good luck!!!
You can never be to a place...you can only be in a place. If you use been, you have to use in, correct? You can go to a place though. And everyone is forgeting the word "into". Where does that fit in?