Gone vs Went: How to Use Both Words

Using gone vs went appropriately will make your writing stronger, and this guide will help.

In the English language, irregular verbs are some of the trickiest to keep straight. Because their conjugations are not standard, additional tenses can be difficult to remember. The verb “to go” is a classic example of this.

Both the word gone and the word went are past tense conjugations of “to go.” However, they are not interchangeable. If you are going to write using proper English grammar, you will need to know the difference between gone vs went.

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Gone vs Went: A Comprehensive Guide

Gone vs went

Knowing when to use gone and when to use went requires a closer look at the conjugations of the verb “to go,” which are as follows:

  • Go/goes – Simple present
  • Went – Simple past
  • Will go – Future
  • Had gone – Past perfect
  • Have gone/been – Present perfect simple
  • Will have gone – Future perfect

Both gone and went are a form of the past tense, but they have different usages.

When to Use Went

gone vs went?
Example: The family went on vacation as soon as school was done for the year

Went is the simple past tense of the verb “to go.” This is the verb choice you will use when you are using the past tense form of the verb go and do not have a helping verb along with it. Here are some examples:

  • The family went on vacation as soon as school was done for the year.
  • The dog went outside in a frenzy to bark at the neighbor who was driving by.
  • The play went well after the many hours of rehearsal.

Gone is the Past Participle of Go

The word gone is always the past participle form of “to go.” While there are several tenses that fall under this category, when the writer forms a compound verb using a helping verb and “to go,” and that verb is past tense, then it uses the form gone. 

Past particle verb tenses have three main uses. These are:

  • Past perfect
  • Present perfect
  • Future perfect

Using “Gone” as a Past Perfect Tense

Gone is used as the past tense of go in situations that require a helping verb. One of these is the past perfect tense. 

Past perfect shows something happening before another action that also happened in the past. For example:

  • I realized I forgot my wallet after I had gone down the road a few miles.

This sentence tells the reader that the speaker already drove several miles when the realization that the wallet was still at home hit. The past perfect tense always uses the auxiliary verb “had,” whether the subject is plural or singular. 

Using “Gone” as Present Perfect Tense

Gone is also the conjugation to use when writing in the present perfect tense. This form pairs the helping verb “have” with the past particle “gone.” This form shows that the action was completed at a time before the present, but that its effects are continuing in the present.

Here are some examples:

  • The rehearsals have gone well, so we are excited about opening night.
  • Even though she has gone down this road many times, today she seems to be getting lost.

Using “Gone” as Future Perfect Tense

Future perfect is a confusing tense because it uses the past participle, gone, but refers to something that happens in the future. This tense refers to something that will be completed in the future. At the time of completion, it is in the past, but for now, it is in the future.

This conjugation always uses the helping verbs “will have,” regardless of whether the subject is singular or past. Here are some examples:

  • After today's visit, I will have gone to the amusement park five times this summer.
  • By the time she graduates high school, she will have gone on multiple tournament trips with her volleyball team.

A Final Word on Gone vs Went

Telling the difference between different tenses is challenging, but when you are trying to decide whether to use gone or went, one simple trick can help. If the word has a helping verb, you will use gone. If it does not, you will use went.

Once you learn this simple rule, you can get the correct usage the first time every time. You can also use a grammar checker like Grammarly to double-check your work.

FAQs on Gone vs Went

Do I say “would have gone” or “would have went?”

In this conjugation, you would use “gone.” Any time the verb go is paired with a helping verb in the past tense, you use “gone,” because gone is the past participle form of the verb.

How can I know when to use gone or went?

Went is the simple past tense of the verb go. It never has a helping verb. If you have a helping verb you need the past participle, which is gone.

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Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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