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Is there any difference between these two sentences?

Mirek went to Europe on business.
Mirek has gone to Europe on business.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

When using the present perfect "has/have gone", the implication is that he has not returned and is still in Europe. With simple past tense, there is no such indication: he may still be in Europe or he might have returned.

Incidentally, you would normally use "Mirek went to Europe on business." when the time of the action is understood between both speakers, so the context might indicate whether he is in Europe or back where he came from.

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This wasn't your question, but I should also add that there is a similar difference between "Mirek has gone" and "Mirek has been". When you use "has been" you are indicating that Mirek has gone and come back. –  SigueSigueBen Dec 5 '11 at 20:56
    
If you were sitting in the UK office discussing which of your team should go to Europe next month, say, you might all recognise it was a tricky choice because none of you had much experience of overseas work. Someone might say "Mike has gone to Europe", even if Mike was sitting next to them in the meeting. I know it should really be has been, but I think it's a very minor "error" that people often make. –  FumbleFingers Dec 5 '11 at 22:11
    
Interestingly, in my dialect, that "error" would almost never occur. To us, there is a very distinct difference between has been and has gone, which perhaps isn't so pronounced in your (UK, I presume) variant of English. On top of that, we would also say that the UK is in Europe to begin with, but that's another matter! –  SigueSigueBen Dec 5 '11 at 22:25
    
I think I'm often quite tolerant of "loose" speech, so you'd have to take my position with a pinch of salt. But I will say that whereas my bare version above would bother me ever so slightly, I doubt I'd even register the error if it were extended to, say, "Mike has gone to Europe several times". I don't know why that should be. As to whether the UK is already in Europe, I think right now most Brits are probably thinking we're well out of it! –  FumbleFingers Dec 5 '11 at 22:36
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Context is important, and without context it is difficult to know which of the statements would express your point more clearly. Of course, you didn't ask which version would be preferable. I actually think the "on business" part is problematic. I cannot imagine going to Europe on business, when a plane or ship would be far more effective.

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protected by RegDwigнt Feb 7 '13 at 14:47

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