Begone WENT for GONE!
Welcome back to another grammar lesson. I know you've heard this error before as it is very common in these parts of North Carolina, but we surely aren't alone, and I'm about as determined as a duck after a June bug to help get rid of it!
Just recently I heard a sheriff on national TV make the following statement about a crime that was being investigated:
"It (the outcome of a crime) could have WENT either way."
Aargh!! Once again we hear people who should know better making unbelievable errors when they speak! Just ask any English teacher and others who love the Mother Tongue :-)
I imagine you can now guess what the topic of today's lesson will be. Yup, the outrageous misuse of WENT for GONE.
Let's see what's going on here.
Okay. If you'll just think about a few simple little rules, I think you'll never have trouble again with these two verbs.
The verb GO is a very irregular verb in English, and both WENT and GONE are some of its forms. As we have learned before, we sometimes need to take a look at verb conjugation to understand more fully why some rules are they way they are. Since this error is most often seen in the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tenses, we will concentrate there. Here's the correct use of GO in these tenses:
Present Perfect - I have gone, you have gone, he/she/it has gone, we have gone, you have gone, and they have gone
Past Perfect - I had gone, you had gone, he/she/it had gone, etc.
Futre Perfect - I shall/will have gone, you will have gone, he/she/it will have gone, etc.
Ah, ha! Did you see any examples of
"I have WENT..." , "You had WENT..." , "He/she/it will have WENT..." ?
No way! And that's because using WENT for GONE in these cases is about as bad as throwing a clod in the churn.
Now all of this begs the question: Why do lots of folks make this mistake? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that WENT actually IS corrrect in the PAST tense form of GO. Check this out:
Past of GO - I went, you went, he/she/it went, we went, you went, they went
Considering this, it's pretty easy to figure how some folks just confuse the past tense use with the three perfect tenses of GO.
Now let's see how well you can do with the following sentences:
1. David had (gone, went) a country mile before he saw the racetrack.
2. I have (gone, went) just about as far as I can go on this rocky path with no shoes on.
3. Ray (gone, went) down the road to find Linwood and jerk a knot in his tail.
4. Have you ever (gone, went) to a pig pickin'?
5. Junior (gone,went) to Cafe Gourmet last night and told me today that he ate so much his stomach was touching the table when he finished.
Here are the answers: GONE is the correct answer in sentences 1, 2, and 4. WENT is correct in sentences 3 and 5. The explanation is very simple. Sentences 1, 2, and 4 each have an "H" word (had, have, and Have) as part of the verb. The other two sentences do NOT have an "H" word as part of the verb. Pretty easy, huh? If for no other reason than that, you should never make a mistake again with GONE and WENT!
Be merciful to us English teachers by helping others who persist in saying things such as, " I had WENT to see my aunt, but she wasn't home," or "Have you WENT to buy your new shoes yet?"
We'll be forever in your debt!
For now, I'm signing off. Have a great week and practice perfect grammar! Peace and happiness, GG