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Gone and Went

Go is one of the 200 or so irregular verbs that can make English-language learners tear out their hair. It’s simple enough to use “I go” or “he goes” correctly, but mastering the various tenses can be a struggle for even native English speakers.


  • We’ve went to work every day this year.
  • Their cousin gone home.
  • My granddad said that he gone fishing.


The irregular verb to go uses simple past tense — went — to indicate something that may still be happening. Where is he? He went to the store. (Maybe he’s still there!) When you include a variant of the auxiliary verb to have , it changes into the perfect tense. Using have means the action is complete: Their cousin has gone home. (He isn’t returning!) You never have went anywhere, though.


Consider these sentences: “I went shopping” and “She went to school.” Are they permanent? They are not. At some point she’ll be coming home from school. No one writes a sad country song titled “She Went”; they all say that “she’s gone.” In the words of the late country singer Troy Gentry’s song “Gone,” when someone has gone, they are “like all the good things that ain’t never comin’ back.” Note that last phrase; it’s over.

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