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What’s the Past Tense of Go?

To go is in the present tense. Went is the past simple tense, and 'have gone' is the past participle of go.

Past tense of "go" in conversation.
Past tense of “go” in conversation.



What’s the past tense of go? ‍

The verb go, which describes when we “move or travel from one place to another, (e.g., “I have to go to Rome on business“), is highly irregular in English:


  • The present tense is go.

  • The simple past tense of “go” is went.

  • The past participle of “go” is gone.




Go, and its past tense, went, are entirely different words in how they are spelled and sound. This is why people are so often confused with the verb forms of “go”.


TenseExamples: forms of “go” used in sentences
presentI have to go to Rome on business.
pastShe went into her room and shut the door behind her.
past participle formShe has gone to see her sister this weekend.



Forms of the verb “go”

presentpastfuture
simpleI goI wentI will go
continuousI am goingI was goingI will be going
perfectI have goneI had goneI will have gone
perfect continuousI have been goingI had been goingI will have been going
Verb tenses of ‘go’



‍Irregular verbs like “go”

Here’s a chart that illustrates other verbs in English with two past tense forms, like go/went/gone:

base verbpast tensepast participle
gowentgone
flyflewflown
blowblewblown
drawdrewdrawn
eatateeaten
drinkdrankdrunk
Irregular verbs (two past tenses).

When to use “went” vs. “gone”

Compare these sentences:

Past tense: She went into her room and shut the door behind her.

Past participle:  I had gone to the store.

A key marker of the past participle form of a verb vs. the simple past tense is the use of an auxiliary/helping verb, such as had/have/has (is/am/are/was/were/be.) The simple past tense, went, does not require an auxiliary verb because went is a complete verb tense.


Participles are not verb tenses per se. Rather, they are forms of verbs and they are used to form the perfect aspect + the passive voice. This means that the past participle uses a sentence object, and an auxiliary verb (as mentioned).


So, remember: participles participate and need a helping verb to function as a whole verb in a sentence. The simple past, on the other hand, does not require a helping verb and can standalone in sentences.

Sentences with “go” (present tense)

It’s a long way to go just to see a couple of reefs.

Could you go and get me a towel?

I have to go to Rome on business.

Are you going home for Christmas? (present continuous)

Don’t go charging in there!

Sentences with “went” (past simple)

The weather was pretty bad when we went to Boston last year.

We went walking on the beach.

I tripped and went tumbling down the stairs.

The car went skidding off the road into a ditch.

She went sobbing up the stairs.

Sentences with “gone” (past participle)

I’ve gone shopping for the afternoon and won’t be back until later.

We had gone about fifty miles when the car broke down.

She has gone to see her sister this weekend.

She has gone to China

She’s gone to Brazil on vacation.

Phrases with go (or goes)

  • What goes around comes around.
  • Go without
  • Go over
  • Go together
  • Go after
  • Go along with

Origin of go

From etymology online on go (v.):

Old English gan “to advance, walk; depart, go away; happen, take place; conquer; observe, practice, exercise,” from West Germanic *gaian.

Worksheet: conjugations of ‘go’

QuestionsAnswer options:
1. The sentence uses what tense:
She goes to the gym every morning.
a. present simple
b. past simple
c. third-person present singular
d. present perfect tense
2. The sentence uses what tense:
They’re going to the store right now.
a. present simple
b. past simple
c. present perfect
d. present continuous
3. Choose the form of “go” to complete the sentence:
Yesterday, he _____ to the beach.
a. go
b. went
c. gone
d. going
4. Choose the form of “go” to complete the sentence:
Tomorrow, he ___ to the conference.
a. will go
b. went
c. had gone
d. will have had gone
5. The sentence is in which tense:
She has gone to see her sister this weekend.
a. present simple
b. present perfect
c. past perfect
d. present continuous
6. Choose the form of “go” to complete the sentence:
He _______ on a long trip next summer.
a. will go
b. went
c. will be going
d. will have had gone
7. Complete the sentence:
I ___ the library every day with the kids.
a. will go
b. go to
c. will be going
d. will have had gone
8. Complete the sentence:
She ____ to the mall with Sarah.
a. goes
b. gone
c. will go
d. went

Read about other irregular verbs!

Learn more about verbs

Sources

  1. Etymology online, origin of go.
  2. Definition of go.


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