Go, Goes, Going, Went or Gone? How To Properly Use This English Verb

Go, Goes, Going, Went or Gone? How To Properly Use This English Verb

One of the big challenges faced by English language learners is the proper way to use verbs.

If you didn’t grow up learning the rules of English grammar, you might find yourself confused about verb tenses one particularly challenging verb to learn is “go” and its different variations “goes”, “going”, “went” and “gone”.

Common meanings of the word “go”

“Go”, “goes”, “going”, “went”, or “gone” are verbs, words that describe an action. “Go” is the main verb, while the others are its tenses.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the verb “go” means to travel. It’s used to describe the act of moving from one place to another.

It is also used to describe being in the process of moving. Such as when we say “go up” stairs, someone is moving up the stairs.

You can also use “go” if you want to say you are leaving. “I have to go” is a common English phrase that is used to take your leave or say goodbye.

These are the three most common ways that native English speakers use the word “go”. Simple enough right? What trips many people up is when we bring the tenses in it.

Go: Present Tense

Mostly, go is used in the present tense, so it is something that is happening now. It can be used with first-person and second-person pronouns and in singular or plural.

First Person Singular: "I go"

Second Person Singular: "You go"

First Person Plural: "We go"

Third Person Plural: "They go"

Go: Future Tense

“Go” can also be used when you are talking in the future tense. The future tense means that you are describing an action that will be taking place in the future.

If you are going to visit the store in the evening, you say: "I will go to the store."

If it is Steve’s turn to go to the store later, you will say: "Steve will go to the store."

“Go” in the future tense can also be used with first person, second person, and third-person pronouns, both singular and plural.

First Person Singular: "I will go."

Second Person Singular: "You will go."

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it will go."

First Person Plural: "We will go."

Third Person Plural: "They will go."

Goes: Third-person singular, present tense

Goes is the present tense, third-person singular of the verb “go”.

Since “goes” is a verb in the present tense, you use it when you are describing an action that is happening now. However, since it is the third-person singular, you can only use it if you are describing someone else’s actions.

For example, if you are on your way to the store and someone asks you what you are doing, you use “go”, like so: "I go to the store."

However, if you want to say that Steve is about to go to the store, you use “goes” because you’re talking about an action that someone else is taking. Ex. "Steve goes to the store."

You can also use “goes” with third-person singular pronouns. Ex. "He/She goes to the store"

Going: The Present Participle

A present participle is a word that is formed from a verb with the suffix “-ing” attached. A present participle is either used as an adjective or in verb tenses.

So, “go” plus “ing” is “going”. There aren’t really any common examples of going being used as an adjective, but it is used in plenty of verb tenses. We’ll look at the different verb tenses that “going” can take below

Going: Present Continuous Tense

The present continuous tense, means your describing an action that is ongoing or that you are in the midst of performing.

“Going” can be used here in the first, second, and third person and singular or plural

First Person Singular: "I am going"

Second Person Singular: "You are going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it is going"

First Person Plural: "We are going"

Third Person Plural: "They are going"

Going: Past Continuous

“Going” is also used in the past continuous tense. Past continuous is also known as past progressive and you use it to describe a continuing action or when you want to say that something happened at a particular point in the past.  

Going can also be used in the first, second, and third person and singular and plural.

First Person Singular: "I was going"

Second Person Singular: "You were going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it was going"

First Person Plural: "We were going"

Third Person Plural: "They were going"

Going: Future Continuous

Also known as future progressive, the future continuous tense is used when you want to say that something is going to happen in the future and will continue for an expected length of time.

Going in the future continuous tense can also be used in the first, second, and third person and singular and plural.

First Person Singular: "I will be going"

Second Person Singular: "You will be going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it will be going"

First Person Plural: "We will be going"

Third Person Plural: "They will be going"

Going: Perfect Progressive

The perfect progressive tense is used to describe actions that were:

  • Repeated over a certain time period
  • Continuing in the present and/or
  • Will continue in the future

First Person Singular: "I have been going"

Second Person Singular: "You have been going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it has been going"

First Person Plural: "We have been going"

Third Person Plural: "They have been going"

Going: Past Perfect

You use the past perfect tense if you want to talk about an action that took place in once or many times before another point in the past.

First Person Singular: "I had been going"

Second Person Singular: "You had been going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it had been going"

First Person Plural: "We had been going"

Third Person Plural: "They had been going"

Going: Future Perfect

This tense is used when you are talking about an action that will be completed between now and some point in the future.

First Person Singular: "I will have been going"

Second Person Singular: "You will have been going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it will have been going"

First Person Plural: "We will have been going"

Third Person Plural: "They will have been going"

Going: A Conditional Verb

Going can also be used as a conditional verb, which is used to create conditional sentences. Conditional sentences describe unlikely or hypothetical situations.

When used as a conditional verb, you can use “going” in the present or the perfect tense.

Present Tense:

First Person Singular: "I would be going"

Second Person Singular: "Would be going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it would be going"

First Person Plural: "We would be going"

Third Person Plural: "They would be going"

Perfect Tense:

First Person Singular: "I would have been going"

Second Person Singular: "You would have been going"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it would have been going"

First Person Plural: "We would have been going"

Third Person Plural: "They would have been going"

Went: The Past Tense

When we want to say that an action took place in the past and is finished, we use a verb in the past tense.

The past tense of “go” is “went”. So, going back to our example about the store. If someone asked where you were, you can say: "I went to the store."

If you want to say that Steve has come from the store: "Steve went to the store."

This works with first, second, and third-person pronouns as well, in the singular and plural.

First Person Singular: "I went"

Second Person Singular: "You went"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it went"

First Person Plural: "We went"

Third Person Plural: "They went"

Gone: Past Participle

“Gone” is the past participle of “go”. A past participle is a word formed by a verb with one of the following suffixes: -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n.

You can use “gone” in the present perfect tense, the past perfect tense, and the future perfect tense.

Gone: Present Perfect

A verb in the present perfect tense refers to an action or state that:

  • Happened at an indefinite time in the past
  • Started in the past and continued to the present

The present perfect tense is formed by placing have/has in front of the past participle of the verb. So, in the case of “gone”, it is “has/have gone”.

First Person Singular: "I have gone"

Second Person Singular: "You have gone"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it has gone"

First Person Plural: "We have gone"

Third Person Plural: "They have gone"

Gone: Past Perfect

You use can use “gone” in the past perfect tense if you want to talk about something that was completed in the past.

First Person Singular: "I had gone"

Second Person Singular: "You had gone"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it had gone"

First Person Plural: "We had gone"

Third Person Plural: "They had gone"

Gone: Future Perfect

Gone can also be used in the future perfect tense. The future perfect tense is used if you are talking about an action that will be done before another action happens.

For example, if you want to say you will be going to the store while Steve is in school:

"I will have gone to the store by the time Steve gets back from school."

The future perfect tense of “go” is formed by taking the past participle “gone” and adding either “will” or “shall” and “have” before it.

So, you could also have said:

"I shall have gone to the store by the time Steve gets back from school"

First Person Singular: "I will/shall have gone"

Second Person Singular: "You will/shall have gone"

Third Person Singular: "He/she/it will/shall have gone"

First Person Plural: "We will/shall have gone"

Third Person Plural: "They will/shall have gone"

Conclusion

If you really want to learn how to properly use these different verbs and more, you need to practice using them in daily speech. Practice makes perfect after all.

One of the best courses available online is the course "Verb Tenses and Passives" on Coursera.

The best way to practice and memorize the rules for when you should use “go”, “goes”, “going”, “went”, or “gone”, it to work on using them in conversation with an online native English-speaking tutor. Your tutor can provide you real-time corrections on your verb usage and your pronunciation and accent. This will help ensure that, when you need to use these words in a conversation, you can confidently “go” to the right one. - Get 50% off the first lesson with your tutor here

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