‘Is gone’ vs. ‘has gone’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

We know it from films: The main hero is dying in his friend’s arms, saying his last words. Then his eyes close, and the friend says, with tears in his eyes, “He is gone.” In a novel, when a lover leaves her partner, he may say, “She is gone, and she is not coming back.”

Such usage is idiomatic and is not really an instance of a general grammatical rule. A non-native speaker just has to remember that

to be gone = to be far away; to have disappeared; (figuratively) to be dead

The form “have gone”, on the other hand, is the ordinary past perfect of “to go” and can be used just like any other verb:

Where is Peter? He has gone to France.
Has he gone mad?

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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