"gone", "been", Past Simple and Present Perfect

ptt   Saturday, May 08, 2004, 05:24 GMT
1. Which sentence is correct?
- Have you ever gone to Singapore?
- Have you ever been to Singapore?
2. Which sentence is correct?
- I have been to Australia once.
- I have gone to Australia once.
- I once went to Australia.
- I went to Australia once.

Or they are all correct depending on the context in which they appear? Do they mean different things?
Hmm...   Sunday, May 09, 2004, 05:58 GMT
Well, this is a hard one. Gone and went are both the past tense of go and been is of be. I don't know....
Random Boy   Monday, May 10, 2004, 03:00 GMT
Singapore, lah, Singapore!
Land of Raffles everywhere.
Raffles Girls School, Raffles Park.
Raffles Hotel, Raffles Class.
Oh, he who cast Promethean flame.

Singapore, lah, Singapore!
Land where GCE O-levels still exist,
Administered by Cambridge, hah!
Land where schools are basically
Half British and half not.

Singapore, lah, Singapore!
Land of a thousand abbreviations.
Land where motorways have names.
Selatar, Tampines, et cetera.
SLE, TE, et cetera.

Singapore, lah. Singapore!
Land of the thousand government campaigns.
Speak Mandarin, ye dialectial morons.
Speak good English, away with Singlish.
So says the gahmen (government).
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 03:43 GMT
These are the best answers.

1 - Have you ever been to Singapore?
2 - I have been to Australia once.

"Went" is the past tense of "go". "Gone" is the past participle.
"Was" or "were" is the past tense of "be". "Been" is the past participle.

Ask "Have you gone to Singapore?" if you expect the person still to be there.

Say "I have gone to Australia." if you're still there.

Use the simple past when you're giving a specific time frame. Look at these:

- I once went to Australia.
- I went to Australia once.

What's the time frame? Actually it's "once" thus these are okay.
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 04:06 GMT
In fact you'd better say "I have come to Australia." but "He has gone to Australia." is fine (if he's still there).
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 04:41 GMT
Let me explain a bit more fully.

"Came" is the past tense of "come". The past participle is "come".

We use "come" for movement towards or with the speaker/writer/reader/listener or movement to where they had been, will be or live. This is opposed to movement in other directions for which we use "go". For more detail see the dictionary.


Anyway, if you are in Australia, you'd choose "come" not "gone" because that's where you are so. "I have come to Australia." not "I have gone to Australia."

Similarly you'd say "He has come to Australia." if you are also in Australia but say, for example, he's in Australia but you're in Canada then you'd say "He has gone to Australia."

Another thing: I say "once" can be used to give a time frame. I won't work with "twice" nor will it work with "thrice", "three times", "four times", "five times", etc. This is just something special about the word "once": you're using it like you would in "Once there were three little pigs ..." Again, you'd better check the dictionary.


I thus hesitate to give the following my stamp of approval.

- I twice went to Australia.
- I went to Australia twice.

However, someone else might find these perfectly acceptable. Actually I would raise no eyebrow if I heard them (though the pedant in me might not like uttering such things). Though if you're doing some grammar test, it's probably best to steer clear of them.