Usage of "has gone to" in American English

I’m trying to get a grip on the usage of “has gone to” in AmEng and finding it quite hard to understand the distinction between examples such as these?

He went to school every day this week.
He has gone to school every day this week.
He has been to school every day this week.

He went to the concert many times.
He has gone to the concert many times.
He has been to the concert many times.

It seems that “gone to” can be and is used similarly in BE, so I’m not sure why you claim to have a problem with the use of “gone to” or why you seem to want to categorize it as being exclusively “American”. It seems more likely to me that the main difference between BE and AmE in this case may simply be frequency of usage. Your professed lack of understanding for “gone to” may simply be a reflection of your own personal mental block and/or your own personal preference for “been to” over “gone to”.

Since you are clearly a speaker of British English, it may be more useful for you to try to analyze what you seem to perceive as a British preference for the use of “been to” even though “go to” appears to be quite acceptable in BE when used in a different verb form/tense (i.e. similar context, similar meaning, different verb form).

Here are some examples of “gone to school” as used in BE (various perfect forms):

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Meanwhile, 75% of children out of education in these countries had mothers who had not gone to school.

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I think that tells you race was a factor in all of this but I’m just delighted today Jordan has gone to school, at long last.
(This article may be especially interesting to you since it mentions a Nigerian woman with a UK passport.)

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Sometimes we get people in from local businesses, or other role models- recently we had a visit from Oxford University students who had gone to school in Newham.

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She settled into playschool very quickly and soon made lots of very good friends who she has now gone to school with. (From Julia D’s testimonial)

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Muriel Spark would also have gone to school in that building.

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Having lived in Barking and Dagenham for most of my life and gone to school here, I have very high expectations of all students.

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I have trained many people who begin in this way and carry on long after their own children have gone to school.

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I am being bullied at school. Well I was, and it has happened before. Both times I told my parents and they’ve gone to school and it’s stopped,…

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Then there is a group of young people aged 19 -24, many of whom will have gone to school here, who are training in our workshops which help people with special needs to grow and mature into Adulthood.

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Would you like to have lived in Victorian times and gone to school with just boys or girls?

Wow! You’re getting personal again, which can only mean you’re getting nervous. Calm down, Amy.

I’m a speaker of a couple of Englishes, but I have never come across “has gone to” in the way it’s used in AmEng.

Do you think BrEng speakers could also use “had not been to” there? If so, why could they? If not, why?

Is Jordan at school at the moment of speaking?

Isn’t “gone to school” there an idiom for “attended school”"?


I’m not nervous in the least, and I am quite serious when I say that the main problem may be that you’ve simply set up a mental block for yourself. Would you have preferred this sort of less “personalized” wording: “Some people have trouble understanding things when they’ve got a mental block”?

It is quite obvious that you prefer and feel more comfortable with BE. I’m not sure why you seem to object to the fact that I’ve noticed that.

I went to the trouble of finding and posting quite a few examples for you, and links were included so that you could also see/read them in context. My suggestion was to analyze usage differently. Analyze it from a BE perspective first. Ask yourself some questions about the version of English you know, and then try to answer them objectively. Rather than blindly assuming that “go to” must be changed to “be to” simply because the present perfect is used, you need to try to understand why it is you seem to think that is an ironclad “rule”.

I am not a speaker of British English, so you’d be better off asking Alan or MrP or Stew, for example, about the finer points of BE usage.

No, no block at all, that’s why I’m still open to the info coming in from various sources. Just because I do not unquestionably accept your personal view of all this does it mean I’m blocked.

And I’m still looking for a description of the systematic or characteristic use of “has gone to” in AmEng. Haven’t heard one yet. Only heard comments on a few sentences and too few examples.

So, what I’m getting is this:

In BrEng, Jackie has gone to Paris (the perfect of result) always implies that she’s still there while “Jackie has been to Paris” always implies that she’s is no longer in Paris (the experiential perfect). In AmEng, Jackie has gone to Paris is ambiguously either existential or stative- as is Jackie went to Paris .

Is that right so far?

For which reasons and in what contexts would AmEng speaker use these?

I haven’t gone to Paris.
I didn’t go to Paris? … w/post.htm
“nobody has gone to jail” vs “nobody is in jail”

Back to our topic:

He has been to that concert several times
He has gone to that concert several times.

Both those are used in American English, so might the learner also be best advised to adopt the “has been to” over the “has gone to” form in such contexts?

I don’t think so, Mollster !
If in America people use both expressions, learners should be aware of both too.
Or are you discriminating against “gone to” ?

Hi Alex

Mollster is just upset about the fact that (1) “gone to” can be used exactly the same way in BE as it is in AmE, (2) the fact that we apparently use “gone to” more often in AmE than “been to” is used in BE, and (3) the fact that after the 1600s American English and British English both changed – but not always in exactly the same ways.

Massively prescriptive, wouldn’t you say? :wink:

I think you should more read my post again. No one is suggesting that students shouldn’t become aware of both forms, only that students might be better advised to adopt the “have to” form. These forums are filled with suggestions that learners should adopt whatever form over another. My suggestion/question is nothing new.

As for becoming aware of variant forms, I have suggested the same myself many times here only to be mocked and have my suggestions cast out.

It seems you are the one who has taken all this personally, Amy. I’m having discussions on this topic with all kinds of people over a few forums and you are the only one who is behaving like a child.

Now, can you see a difference in the use of “has gone to” here?

Then there is a group of young people aged 19 -24, many of whom will have gone to school here,

He has gone to that school several times.

Wrong again, Mollster. You’ve been ranting and raving all over the Internet for years about your professed inability to cope with AmE. Maybe you should post your questions about AmE over at WordReference. Perhaps you’ll have more luck with them than you’re apparently having with,,,, or Antimoon.

Amy’s all upset because she thinks someone is beating down on her variant. Poor gal. Don’t we just get tired of this “hands of the US whinge” which has permeated every strand of the Net?

Wonder why she finds it OK to beat down on other people’s variants and keeps stum when her flocking friends and pastor do the same. Strange lass if you ask me.

I think that nicely demonstrates the underlying purpose of M’s feigned incomprehension of AmE usage.


In comes the shepherd. :lol: