In the following article from English today there is a survey about the usage of the erroneous, but apparently rather commonly used expression “have went” in place of “have gone”:

... several speakers, all of them American teachers aged between 55 and 64, informed us that they regularly ‘hear[d] people say have went, not have gone’. One of them specifying that she ‘teach[es] in Oklahoma’ noted that ‘[s]ome of my students also say, and write, “I have went”’. A much younger informant, aged 27 and also a teacher, even indicated that she used have went herself.

Interestingly, Google Books shows a fair amount of usage examples in books and publications, such as:

  • And I didn't even realise that when I got a knock-back from art school, so I might have went to uni instead of college.” (Dorothy ...

    (from Losing Out?: Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Experience in Further and Higher Education, by Alasdair Forsyth and Andy Furlong, 2003)

  • wondered if it were me, would I have the restraint Mr. Washington was displaying or would I have went home and cleaned house with bullet placed in appropriate guilty parties vital organs.

    (From Still A Man, by Robert Molden, 2008)

The interesting information retrieved from the attitudes survey raises various questions.

Is the usage of have went on the increase today, at the expense of have gone? Can we consider the expression as acceptable nonstandard English?

Is its use more typical of American than of British usage today?

Related: Should have went vs Should have gone

  • 7
    Since go has a suppletive past form went, the difference is more obvious with it. But all regular verbs have the past tense and the past participle identical. In constructions like have hated, has borrowed, was sent, were voted down, and get married, it's impossible to tell whether the last word is past tense or a past participle. So it's a very common conclusion for a speaker to make about constructions that they take the past tense form instead of the past participle; most of the time it works fine, and it only shows up with odd verb forms like go, went, gone. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 21:29
  • 3
    I think your question is off-topic because realistically you are not going to get an objective answer. However, I would offer as information that "have went" is typical working class usage in the West of Scotland and has been at least since the early 70s when I went to live there. Whether it is just dialect or I don't know. The Glasgow working class do not use lowlands Scots, so it's not that. Listen to any interview with a professional footballer on Scottish radio.
    – David
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 21:52
  • 3
    @NigelJ - not sure about “idiotic” people, and I am not surprised you have heard it rarely in the UK as it appears to be mainly an AmE thing as suggested in the survey you can find in my question.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 5:04
  • 4
    @NigelJ it's not ungrammatical in the dialect of the community of which the expression is common in. In my local area of England, I think it's acceptable to say "have went" in spoken speech as no one, really has the time to analyse POS when someone is talking as opposed to having it written down--unless you're a grammar Nazi.
    – aesking
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 12:11
  • 8
    @Lambie - my question is about USAGE, whether it is ungrammatical, uneducated or even rude is not the core issue here. Do people use it? Do they say ‘have went” in informal, ordinary speech? And most of all, is this usage on the increase as the cited survey appears to suggest?
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 19:49

5 Answers 5


It is totally common in American speech, news interviews etc. The usage spans all the way from 2017-1990 in COCA alone with 117 hits - though, I imagine this isn't a real representation as not every spoken conversions, transcripts or interviews are recorded.

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) for have went

Date: 2017 (170718)

Title: Congress just face plant on repealing and replacing Obamacare despite promise after promise that they would get it done, senate Republicans are coming up empty handed to their vow to voters; Top Obama


, look what I've got here? SCHLAPP# that the intelligence committee will have that information, and the person to watch there is Samantha Power. BOLLING# David, some of the other news that broke this afternoon was that Dianne Feinstein, Senator Feinstein, said that she had spoken to special counsel Robert Mueller, and that he was OK with Donald Trump, Jr., and Paul Manafort testifying in an open hearing. AVELLA# Yeah. It will be interesting and insightful. But I must say, when all this news came out, President Obama must have went, oh, my gosh, every time she says something she raises more questions than answers questions. (CROSSTALK) WILLIAMS# I don't think so at all. AVELLA# And when you think about it, if you watch any Sunday show she was on, she raised far more questions about the actions that happen in that White House, who knew about what was going on, and in a White House that was politically motivated as that White House was, to think that she was the only person that knew

Date: 2017 (17-10-27)

Title: Wife of Lions coach shares cancer battle as a warning

Source: NEWS: The Detroit News

. # Then, the results came back: stage 3 cancer that did not get to the bones or liver. # Getting through dark days # Throughout her journey, Amy Kocurek shared what she was going through on Facebook. (Photo: Amy Kocurek) # Amy was diagnosed on Feb. 5, 2015. She was supposed to get married in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains on March 26 of that year. Chemotherapy needed to start as soon as possible, which meant Amy would lose her hair. Kris suggested postponing the wedding. " We could have went ahead and got married with her going through chemotherapy, but I know that's not the day she wanted, " Kris said. " She didn't want to remember her wedding day being sick. " # Kris, 38, joined the Lions as an assistant defensive line coach in 2009 and was promoted the next year. # Kris' aunt had died from breast cancer, and he was not about to let his fiancee face the same fate. So, he did the one thing he does [...]

Date: 1990 (19901118)

Title: A Story of Thanksgiving: The Needy Glean Food from Harvested Fields Author: By CHRISTOPHER SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer

Source: NEWS: Associated Press

60-year-old Louis Lazzari said the vagaries of the market sometimes open his fields to the gleaners. # " This year, one day I sold my broker 240 bushel boxes of beans and he wanted the next day 340, " he said. " I had the beans, some of the prettiest I ever raised in my life. " But the going price wouldn't have covered expenses. " After I paid the help, I paid for the box, I paid the freight to the place of business, I don't know honestly but I may have went backwards. # " I could have plowed' em under, " Lazzari said. But really he couldn't. " It hurts me so bad to see something... go to waste, " he said. And he knows there are plenty of people here who haven't had his good fortune. # " I was born in the Depression, " he said, " but I never had to go to bed one day in my life without a decent meal, I'm thankful to say.


While the BNC only has 4 hits:

The British National Corpus (BNS) for have went

Date: (1985-1994)

Title: Oral history project interview (Leisure). Rec. on 15 Nov 1990 with 5 partics, 467 utts

their first communion, and they were in dire straights and couldn't buy anything for them, and you would more or less have to give them your book to help them out, but you would go with them so that they didn't go over the score and get just exactly what that wain needed, you know, and just hope that they had enough money to pay you at the end of the quarter, you know. (SP:PS2CH) Would Was there people who would abuse (SP:G63PSUNK) (unclear) (SP:PS2CK) Oh Aye (unclear) you had to (unclear) Some people would have went mad with getting them (SP:G63PSUNK) (unclear) (SP:PS2CK) just the same as you know? (SP:PS2CH) Aye. (SP:PS2CK) You had to watch but if people came to your door in a in a state that er you knew it was a genuine case, you would probably help them out you know. (SP:PS2CH) And did you have to did you have to actually When you went to the shop, say to buy some messages, or to buy whatever erm in the drapery or whatever, (SP:PS2CK) Mm. (SP:PS2CH) did you have to

Date: (1985-1994)

Title: 8 convs rec. by `Sharon' (PS1CH) on 2 Apr 1992 with 14 i's, 948 utts, and over 2 mins 35 secs of recs.

(unclear) 2. (SP:PS598) Is Pauline off all week? (SP:PS599) She was in last night. (SP:PS598) Was she? (SP:PS1CH) (unclear)2. (SP:PS599) (unclear) she got Monday and Tuesday off. (pause) (SP:PS598) I didn't see her mind. (SP:PS599) Did you not? (SP:PS1CH) She was five till eight. (SP:PS598) although I never see her on Wednesday night (unclear)2. (SP:PS1CH) (unclear) (pause) (unclear) definitely (unclear)2. (pause) (SP:PS598) When she was on holiday last week, she come in the shop on er (pause) (unclear) the Thursday or the Friday, she couldn't speak then. (SP:PS1CH) (unclear)2. (SP:PS598) Well it must have went away (SP:PS599) Aha. (SP:PS598) must have got alright and then it's come back. (SP:PS599) (unclear)2. (pause) (unclear)2. (SP:PS598) Mm? (SP:PS599) I say they've finished (unclear). And then they puts put gates and big lights up (unclear) (SP:PS598) No and they're doing all sorts. (unclear)2. (SP:PS599) (unclear)2. (pause) (unclear)2. (SP:PS1CH) What time you finish (unclear)2. (SP:PS598) Are yous getting (unclear) (SP:PS6TN) Half four. (SP:PS598) (unclear)2. (SP:PS1CH) (unclear)2. (SP:PS6TN) (unclear) (SP:PS598) Not doors. (SP:PS1CH) What you gon na do? (SP:PS598) Windows. (SP:PS599) Windows? (SP:PS1CH)

Date: (1985-1994)

Title: 14 convs rec. by `Rosemary' (PS0NR) between 14 and 16 Apr 1991 with 6 i's, 1709 utts

Fulham or Putney. (SP:PS0NW) Fulham. (SP:PS0NR) Or or Putney. (SP:PS0NW) And in which town er and country er did you er go to school? Primary school in Fulham? (SP:PS0NR) Er there weren't primary school then. There was just the infants and then you passed a scholarship and went to (SP:PS0NW) Right. So you would have went still (pause) right. (SP:PS0NR) They weren't grammar schools. They were called c-- (pause) central schools (SP:PS0NW) Right. (SP:PS0NR) but er equivalent to a grammar school. (SP:PS0NW) So (pause) in your primary school days you would have went to er still Fulham? (SP:PS0NR) No. No we'd moved, moved by then. (SP:PS0NW) Where did you move to? (SP:PS0NR) Er (pause) Clapham Junction. (SP:PS0NW) C L A? (SP:PS0NR) C L A P (pause) H A M (SP:PS0NW) Aye. (SP:PS0NR) Junction. Where where they've been bombing it (unclear) (SP:PS0NW) I surveyed in Clapham Junction. I did. (SP:PS0NR) Mm? Oh. (SP:PS0NW) I surveyed er (pause) last year. (SP:PS0NR) Did you? (SP:PS0NW) I was over in Clapham. Yeah, aha [...]

Date: (1985-1994)

Title: 13 convs rec. by `Paul' (PS0MX) between 10 and 16 Apr 1992 with 5 i's, 1528 utts

(SP:PS0MX) (unclear) (SP:PS0MY) Since you're both (unclear)2. (SP:PS0MX) Go on! Get them out the hall. You and Lemar just remember (unclear)2. (SP:PS0MY) (laugh) (SP:PS0MX) (laugh) (SP:PS0MY) After all, he got (unclear) (SP:PS0MX) (unclear) (SP:PS0MY) No, no, no! After this game. (SP:PS0MX) Mm? (SP:PS0MY) No, I'm not playing with you. (SP:PS0MX) (unclear) (SP:PS0MY) Oh no. (SP:PS0N1) Oh well, well done! (SP:PS0MY) That's not too fair! Said you and me (unclear)2. (SP:PS0MX) Ah? (pause) Post! (SP:PS0MY) Ooh! Well (pause) why did you go, (unclear) (SP:PS0MX) Should have went in! (SP:PS0N0) Did you see that shot! Ah! (SP:PS0MX) They're really getting rough with us. (SP:PS0MY) That was out. (SP:PS0N0) Hey! That should have gone in. (SP:PS0MX) Yeah, what about that! (SP:PS0MY) They weren't putting, that (pause) they weren't playing (unclear) they didn't have (unclear) (cough) KDJ If I get him to go in there and do a bit of plaster on (SP:PS0N3)

While n-gram shows occurrences for have went too - though I think this is books of recorded conversations, letters or quoted speech rather than "continuous prose". Frequently common in the 1800s, going back to the 1600s:

enter image description here

A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High ..., Volume 14, Thomas Bayly Howell - 1708

enter image description here

A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High ..., Volume 15 - A.D. 1716

enter image description here

The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature - Volume 2 - Page 216 - 1804

enter image description here

Gentle Rebel: Letters of Eugene V. Debs, James Robert Constantine - 1995

enter image description here


According to Katherine Barber's blog:

Back in Anglo-Saxon times, "go" was fairly easy to conjugate. The infinitive was "go", the past participle was "gone" and the simple past was.... "goed". Bet you didn't see that one coming. Young children still conjugate it this way. There was another verb, "wend", which meant "move, turn, or change direction", and gradually came to mean "go in a certain direction". This survives now only in the phrase "wend one's way". The simple past was "wende". But from about 1200 on, the form "went" started to be used for both the simple past and the past participle of "wend": I wend, I went, I have went. Because of the similarity in meaning between "go" and "move in a certain direction", "went" migrated over to the verb "to go" and settled in there by about 1500 as its simple past, booting out "goed", and, in some varieties of the language, "gone" as well


  1. 1642 W. Sedgwicke Zions Deliv. Ded. sig. A2v: A Judge that would have went right if the times had not beene bad.
  1. 1729 S. Switzer Hydrost. & Hydraul. 319: The Length of Time it [an engine] has went

Similarly, linguistlist.org says

With that in mind, if you belong to a dialect community in which people consistently say "I have went..." instead of "I have gone...", then among your friends and community, there is nothing wrong with "It seems to have went well." If writing to someone outside the community, or a formal document or school assignment, it were better to use "It seems to have gone well." If your community of English generally says "I have gone..", then "to have went..." in that case is in fact "incorrect", that is, ungrammatical -- contrary to the patterns of that dialect. [...]

[...] Formerly in English many centuries ago, the forms of 'go' were like German 'gehen' Ich gehe, Ich ging, Ich bin gegangen.' I believe it is the case that in some Scots dialects, the past tense may still be "gang" or something like that. But most English dialects replaced the old past tense of 'go' -- gang-- with the past tense of the verb 'wend' wend, went, wended. It belongs to the spend, send, rend, lend.... group of verbs. This is what we call a suppletive verb -- a verb some of whose forms bear no phonological connexion with its other forms, almost always if not always because they originally came from a different verb. In German, sein is a good example of a highly suppletive verb, as is 'be' in English. So the present is 'sie ist', past is 'sie war' but the perfect is 'sie ist gewesen'.]

Grammaticalness of "have went" depends on whether it is a phrase commonly used in your local area or dialect and that can be questioned by other communities which regulate "Standard English":

To a linguist "usage" is a matter of statistics -- not "rules" handed down from some self-appointed usage arbiter. So we tell you what people say, not what they "ought to" say. Since many societies in which English is spoken are stratified, some of the dialects have more social prestige than others. But no way of speaking English spoken consistently by a community of native speakers is "wrong".

It is also common in spoken African American Vernacular English (AAVE) according to this paper to say "have went". The author of the paper suggests that "have went" is common in spoken AAVE but may not be common in writing even when other features of AAVE are present:

Constructions as I had did report cards for my student teaching..., although common in AAVE (the use of the past tense rather than past participle in irregular verbs: “I should have went”) are very rare in these papers. Almost all AAVE usages involve dropped endings.

This further supports the distinction between dialect and sociolect, and how the dialectical "have went" has little to do with a sociolect such as AAVE.

The difference between dialect and sociolect

"Geographic dialects are varieties associated with speakers living in a particular location, while social dialects are varieties associated with speakers belonging to a given demographic group (e.g., women versus men, or different social classes)" (Dimensions of Register Variation, 1995).

[...] A sociolect's main identifier is socioeconomic class, age, gender, and ethnicity in a certain speech community.

The problems with this distinction between dialect and sociolect:

Peter Trudgill coined the term “sociolect” to denote dialects which are most clearly linked to some kind of social group such as class, gender, subculture, or ethnicity rather than geographic location. However there is usually more than one dimension to this – thanks to the nature of British English where there are often multiple varieties spoken in the same place, and more "prestigious varieties" have a higher degree of levelling, every variety of British English can be both a regional dialect and a sociolect in different measures.

But for all intents and purposes, we shall take them by how the sociolinguist Peter Trudgill defines them:

The main distinction between a sociolect and a dialect, which are continually confused, is the settings in which it is created. A dialect's main identifier is geography: a certain region uses specific phonological, morphosyntactic or lexical rules.

Trudgill, Peter. A Glossary of Sociolinguistics. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.

Why have went is not a sociolect

Have went has been used historically in the past and not just with the lower class but also the upper class and those who are seen to have power.

A US Senate page from the 1800s in his transcript cites:

Many a night have I stayed till eleven and twelve o’clock folding speeches for Senators Clay, Benton, Calhoun, and Webster and other senators. Remember we had in those days no paste, we had to use wafers. I have went home often and told my mother that my tongue was blistered with using red wafers. She would say, “I wish something else could be found in their place, they will poison you.” I have folded as many as six thousand before I went home at night.

What is a Senate?

An assembly or council usually possessing high deliberative and legislative functions, such as:

  1. the supreme council of the ancient Roman republic and empire
  2. the second chamber in the bicameral legislature of a major political unit (such as a nation, state, or province)

Who was he?

  • Isaac Bassett began his Senate career in December 1831, at the age of 12
  • The US Senate page program is one of the most selective and prestigious in the United States
  • The school he attended was accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (which regulates public and private schools)
  • His education was rigorous and was subject to expulsion if they did not maintain the necessary grades and had 5-6 hours of homework each night.
  • He was described as by other Senate members “testimonial of their personal regard and of their high appreciation of the intelligence, the promptness, the accuracy, and the conscientious fidelity”.

Therefore, have went is not only restricted to that of socioeconomic class, gender or ethnicity; but those who are "educated" and "upper class" as well.

Other examples include:

Frank Abagnale (as Mari-Lou exemplified):

And the word "Pan Am" and the special styling and graphics that would have went on the fuselage went perfect across the top of the card. And the clear decal on the laminated plastic made a beautiful identification card.

Who was he?

He is one of four children and spent the first sixteen years of his life in New Rochelle, New York. His father was an affluent local who was very keen on politics and theater, and was a role model for Abagnale Jr. His primary school education was in a Catholic school.

Both persons goes to show that sociolect has little influence on a person's ability to be able to use "have went" instead of "have gone". But is rather more influenced by geographical influence. Examples include:

  1. Is the past participle dying in US English? I hear "I should have went", or "I must have did it" etc with a lot more regularity from educated people.
  2. In Scotland, it's extremely common to hear the phrase "should have went" in everyday speech



I just wanted to support the post about it being a dialect, and I'll go even further. This is a characteristic dialect in American English, particularly in the midwest, where it is the norm for not only "uneducated" people, but for educated people as well. Now, according to prescriptivist grammar, yes, this is incorrect, but I'm a descriptivist myself, and have no problem accepting when people speak in their local dialects.


It's not exactly new, I've been hearing it as standard in Scots the whole time I've been here (nearly 40 years) - I got the impression it was a few centuries old.

Oddly, on googling for Scottish uses of the "have went" construction, a large proportion of them are in writing about football.

The reason why I think have went is a feature of dialect, as well as all the other reasons above, is because: "one of the most common differences between dialects is the way in which past tenses are formed"; "have went" is a past tense that is in competition with "have gone" across different regions of different countries and is similar to how "was vs were" differs across regions too (even in the same country), depending on where you live.

However, I feel like this quote fully summarises everything:

Just as speakers with a broad accent do not reflect their pronunciation in writing, most people whose speech is characterised by non-standard grammar, switch to more standard forms in writing. However, there is a great deal of difference between written and spoken language, both in terms of purpose and audience, and this is reflected in their different grammars.

  • Therefore, why n-gram reported more usages of have went in direct or indirect speech and rarely in continuous prose because it is a feature of dialect.
  • 2
    Great research, great answer!
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 6:15
  • This is a super long answer; your 'conclusion' occurs midway. Can you give a TL;DR summary?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 16:01
  • I'm not sure what you mean, the conclusion is the "TL;DR" summary?. Adding a TL;DR would just make it even longer I'm afraid and the things added post-conclusion is essential as it addresses why "have went" is gaining currency in speech and the suggestion about it being a dialect in the conclusion--the regions in which it is likely to be most common in and why it may be seen as unnatural speech/grammar in other parts of the world.
    – aesking
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 19:17
  • I'm not saying to remove things, I'm just asking to add a couple bullet points to help the reader understand. If you're OK with the great length, then a little more shouldn't bother you. It is unclear what your answer to the OP actually is and a summary might make it more clear.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 23:49
  • Also, use @Mitch to ping me, otherwise I'll have no idea that you're responding to me.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 23:51

Authentic examples of usage, on YouTube, demonstrate that the following structure “could / should / would + have went” is frequently used and heard in speech.

All the speakers listed are American and some appear to come from the Southern United States (clips 2 and 3). Speakers in clips 3-6 and 8 appear to be educated and their connected speech is extremely natural. The grammatical "error" is easily overlooked, in my opinion, because it is spoken by native speakers in fluid, rapid speech. However, I would not recommend learners to imitate this construction and to avoid it at all costs in formal writing. In other words, should/would + have went looks much worse in print than it does hearing it.

  1. You're the perfect example for coaches whether it's Justin Fuente or coaches moving forward to sell to recruits the perfect example of a guy who could have went somewhere else, could have went and played in the SEC, played at Memphis, went on to the NFL and has put together an incredible career, that it can be done at any school at any school in any program.

Sports Files with Greg Gaston 11 Mar 2013

  1. I was never gonna be a father. And all of a sudden I began to regret that I didn't listen to my parents, that I didn't go home when I should've went home. I was regretting that I only lived 16 years and it was over. I was regretting that I would die a slow death in prison.

Pastor Brian Warth on CBN. "Finding Freedom Behind Prison Bars" 16 May 2015

  1. Now, here's what's interesting. There was actually a direct route that would have went – here. Let me change the color of that, so it's a little bit better. There we go.

The Wandering. The Story Begins | Rob Wegner | Westside Family Church 29 Feb 2016

  1. …in search of that solitude and that inspiration and the beauty that this place provides. Even some of our former employees have went on to become very famous writers, people like Edward Abbey.

North Rim - Grand Canyon in Depth Episode 7 14 May 2016

  1. Hackney: My son-in-law went down there and I didn't go with him and he came home and he had a rib, a 16 pound standing rib roast and so I said, okay, Larry, how much do I owe you here, I'm buying. And it was $285.
    Host: Wow!
    Hackney: Now, how many people are going to do that? If I'd have gone, I wouldn't have done it. I'd have went over here to Vaughn's and I'd sit down and bought the same damn thing for $100.

Walt Hackney, a 1959 graduate of Oklahoma State University (OSU) with a degree in agriculture, has an interesting accent because it is reminiscent of the former President of the US, Bill Clinton. Note that Hackney uses the past participle correctly in "If I'd have gone" and "I wouldn't have done it" Market Plus - Elaine Kub and Walt Hackney 14 Oct 2016

  1. And the word "Pan Am" and the special styling and graphics that would have went on the fuselage went perfect across the top of the card. And the clear decal on the laminated plastic made a beautiful identification card.

Frank Abagnale: "Catch Me If You Can" | Talks at Google 27 Nov 2017

  1. If a person had a full eight hours of sleep but they don't go to school until evening when they have evening school, do they learn worse than if they could have went to a morning school and started learning in the morning?

Matthew Walker: "Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams" | Talks at Google 20 Dec 2017

  1. Knoxville: Oh yeah, now you got to mix it all up. Mix it all up.
    Sean: (chuckles) You've done this before.
    Knoxville: Oh man … I should've went to college

Johnny Knoxville Gets Smoked By Spicy Wings | Hot Ones 7 Jun 2018

Emily Blunt, an English actress married to an American, has been living in the US for several years, and has adopted this speech pattern. In this 2015 interview hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, it's easy to miss the “should have went” expression as it sounds perfectly grammatical and appropriate. EDIT (28/6/2018) The British actress actually said: “I should've worked on my sparring”

  1. Ellen DeGeneres: Yes, I–of course, who doesn't have a fear of–I mean, I wouldn't hurt a shark, but, I mean, if it was coming after me, I'd punch it in the nose.
    Emily Blunt: You'd punch it in the nose, that's what you're supposed to do.
    Ellen DeGeneres: You're supposed to punch it in the nose, which is really risky if you miss. […]
    Emily Blunt: I should have went to I should have worked on my sparring, yeah.

The OP asked: “Is the usage of have went on the increase today, at the expense of have gone? Can we consider the expression as acceptable nonstandard English?”

To the first question, I'm going to say a simple, Yes.

The data provided suggests that this construction often occurs in the Southern United States, Southern Appalachian English, e.g. 1973 GSMNP-76:3 and 1998 Dante OHP-45

  1. “He'd have went up the road a piece to get on the main road that went to Townsend.”
    “You might have went by there a while ago.”

and in African American Vernacular English, e.g. “But I'd went up there” and “If the system had worked, I never would have went in the first place.” It is also present but considered non-standard in mainstream American English, Australian English and British English. The following excerpts are from November 2017 to June 2018

  1. “I’ve held bag-packing and charity night events thus far, which have went really well, and being a Miss Scotland finalist has given me the platform to raise awareness of myotonic dystrophy.”

Airdrie, Scotland. 19 JUN 2018

  1. “People don’t realise: without that fight – if it hadn’t have went ahead – I wouldn’t have been able to pay next month’s rent,” says Carroll.

Jono ‘King Kong’ Carroll is an Irish boxer from Dublin. Nov 27th 2017

  1. “Lauren and Tracy, they’re great opponents. They’re such a great team to play against because they’re just fair players and great players,” she said. “It could have went either way, it just happened to be in our favour today.”

Medicine Hat, Canada. JUNE 18, 2018

  1. "I hit it on a good line. I hit a good shot," said Jackson, a member at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg. "It would have went off the green, but it landed in the hole. It was unbelievable. I feel very fortunate."

Greensburg, Pennsylvania, USA. June 19, 2018

  1. Running conditions were ideal one day after downpours induced localized flooding and power outages and one day before storms washed out many Northland roads.
    "Considering the weather, I don't think it could have went any better," Bauer said.
    Of the heavy rain late Saturday night and into Sunday, as well as the resulting flood damage, Bauer said: "That's the kind of thing that would cancel the marathon,"

Duluth, Minnesota, USA Jun 17, 2018

  1. "I was terrified because I thought I would go kaboom," a woman who wanted to remain anonymous said. "The officer comes to my car and tells me when they brung the bomb out, to lay down in the front seat and try to get as much protection as I could. There was a couple of other people there also and they told them the same thing."
    "We have a gas tank behind there and they have big ones underground," Wingz-N-Thingz employee Bailey Howard said. "If that bomb would have went off, it would have exploded."
    "You gotta keep your eyes open all the time because ya never know," Wingz-N-Thingz employee Whitney Hardin said.

Henry County, Kentucky, USA. May 28th 2018

And for those who are still skeptical, the American English corpus hints that “have went” is on the rise. However, it's important to note that 2008 is the most recent year available on Google Ngram.

Ngram enter image description here

  • 1
    @user110518 I'm not so sure that native speakers are denying this form of speech is common, it's whether it's on the increase that is difficult, if not impossible, to prove without doing extensive research.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 8:37
  • 7
    This is called participle leveling, and it's not restricted to the Southern United States; I heard it frequently growing up in Illinois, and it's attested in BrE and AusE as well. I suggest signing up for the LDC online and searching "English conversations" (Switchboard and Fisher) for "have went". The participants are marked by region, and they're from all over the U.S. Anyway, as you point out this is non-standard, and although it's natural English, most speakers who have this variation eventually learn not to use it when Standard English is expected.
    – user28567
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 23:17
  • 2
    @snailboat- your interesting comment might be the basis for an helpful answer. Anyway thanks for the link.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 21:13
  • 3
    In the Southern Appalachians, phrases with alternate terms often don't have the same meaning. You would have a hard time convincing folk went and gone are different forms of the same verb. In StdE, apparently, "I should have gone to college" means I should have attended college. Not so here, we say "should have went". Should have gone to college means you are attending college and you should have caught the bus this morning. (How do you say that in SdtE?)
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 15:18
  • 1
    There are differences in remoteness, resultiveness, and a lot of differences in phrasal/prepositional verbs - has gone forward , has went back (but has went ahead with). Somehow, the attachment to the prepositions is overwhelming the distinction between the proper inflections.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 15:19

According to Google Ngram, the use of have went is exceedingly minimal, and has shown no significant change in use. (Even though it has some usage with a fractional number above zero, it's essentially a flat line along the "zero" mark.)

On the other hand, although the use of have gone seems to have declined in the past hundred years, it is still noticeably in use.

From this, I can see no evidence of have went gaining any traction in any real way at all.

If you change the corpus in the query, you'll see that this holds true for both British and American English, as well as data from 2009. While there may be some hits of have went from anecdotal reports, and it may be used in some books, the objective data shows the number to be significantly small enough as to be effectively irrelevant.

  • 4
    People do say "I have went", and "I should have went", I have heard them on YouTube, Ngram is not going to tell you anything about its frequency in speech. Its statistics are based on the written word, so citing Ngram is a waste of time and proves nothing at all. Well, you could say Ngram suggests that "have went" is nonstandard in writing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 6:20
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - I agree. I cited Ngram in my question because I was surprised by the number of usage examples that have somehow found their way into books. It is a question of usage in spoken languge, at least for now.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 6:24
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA Except that roughly half of the question is framed around data coming from Google Books. If the written word is really of no concern, then the mention of books is irrelevant. I would be happy to remove my answer if the question were edited to remove both the mention of Google Books and the quotes from two books. (Or if it were recast to make the request specific.) Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 8:29
  • 3
    The question is actually framed on the survey clearly cited in the question. Ngram adds some more flavor to it, but it the issue is clearly about spoken usage.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 9:06
  • 2
    The question is not whether it's right or wrong. The real question is this: Does using have + simple past on its own constitute dialectal speech? All other things being equal, it does not. If a person is supposedly educated and uses it, then, they are making a mistake in their own language game. If it is used by speakers who have other markers in their speech that would make their speech dialectal, then, they are speaking a dialect.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 15:39



The data do not support any recent trend.

Whatever haystacks people provide for you to sift through, you're asking whether "have went" has been gaining ground versus the "grammaticality correct" form, "have gone", which uses the accepted modern past participle of "go".

Since you've given examples from Google Books, let's just compare the two, summarizing across all of the books Google has digitized:

Ngrams have gone vs. have went

"Have gone" is far, far more common, by a factor of 500, and if there has been any increase for "have went" in recent years, it's insignificant.

If we streeeetch the graph to show only "have went", you see that not much has happened:

google ngrams have went

The lesson? You cannot draw conclusions from anecdotes. You need empirical data for that. This data indicates that "have went" isn't "gaining common currency" as asked in your question.

The article you cite asks

Has it perhaps never disappeared from the language, despite criticism in normative grammars and usage guides?

which is most likely the answer: "have went" has the same currency it's always had.

  • 5
    My question is not based on the evidence given by Ngram, but on the survey which I clearly cite first in my post (please read it carefully ). We are talking about a verbal form used in speech and I cited Google Books as an additional and unexpected source of evidence. In any case, usage examples in writtten form appear to be more common they one may assume as shown in the two main answers posted so far.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 4:59
  • 2
    @user110518 Be that as it may, this is very rral empirical data that goes straight to the question you asked. I became very annoyed at the treatises written so far that ignored this elephant in the room. Don't you think a trend in a spoken language would be reflected at some point in written form?
    – Spencer
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 9:32
  • 3
    Well, yes! If that trend becomes consistent and the expression or the verbal form, in this specific case, becomes more and more common. I’m obviously open to any point of view as long as it is supported by reliable data (surveys or other form of data collection if available etc.). The problem here is that the question, for some reason, is taken with prejudice rather than objectivity.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 10:04
  • 5
    @user110518 If you have reason to question the data, that's one thing. But this data indicates that "have went" isn't "gaining currency" the way you asked in your question: It's got the same currency it's always had.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 12:20
  • 2
    Unfortunately, the gatekeepers re "have sent" et alia have not been addressed: editors, academics, teachers, parents (who teach their kids establishment forms), and writers are some of them. Americans make much more noise than others (more people, more media, more speech, etc.), so one can mistakenly get the impressions that something is accepted by the establishment when it is not. This is not like: "Everyone needs to learn their lessons." Spencer, you have my sympathies, I can only hope you are not put through the wringer like I was. For me, this usage cannot be analyzed paradigmatically.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 21:32

NO, also.

Have + simple past is not alone. It is part of a large category of verbal usages such as: could have did, should have did, could have throwed, have did, have spoke. That is: using have + simple past or using should/could/would have plus simple past. It cannot - and does not merit - classification on its own. It can be dialectal or a socialdialect error (depending on socioeconomics). That is the bigger picture here.

No single feature of speech can be used to say a person is speaking a dialect.

This question is about sociolect: In sociolinguistics, a sociolect or social dialect is a variety of language (a register) used by a socioeconomic class, a profession, an age group or other social group.


If an otherwise educated speaker - a speaker who claims to be educated or is recognized by others as being educated - says: I should have went or I have went, they are speaking outside of their sociolect's register. That aspect of their speech is sub-standard.

So, if one wants to determine whether or not a person is coherent within a register, there has to be more than a single feature that decides that.

Here is an article on dialects and sociolects in England, but the ideas apply to AmE as well. [not actual AmE speech]. Dialects and sociolects cannot be detected by a single item, such as Have + Past Participle.

The paragraph below relates to morphology (throwed instead of thrown) but can apply to the question at hand, also.

"Morphological differences that are due to regularization carry a great deal of social significance in American society, and listeners draw sharp distinctions between vernacular and MAE-speaking groups on the basis of the use or non-use of regularized morphological forms. In part, the prominence of regularized morphological forms may be attributed to the fact that all speakers have an unconscious inclination to regularize irregular forms. This tendency is overcome only by paying special attention to the irregular forms, which must be learned by rote since they are not as linguistically “natural” as regularized forms. This focused attention on learning exceptions subsequently makes them sensitive to social marking on a conscious level. In other words, because speakers of standard varieties may have struggled to learn irregular forms such as oxen and thought during their school years, they will be quick to notice when regularized forms are used and just as quick to stigmatize speakers who use them."

By extension: The paragraph above would also apply to having to learn that have + past participle is something people have to learn. A child is corrected by a parent or teacher or other figure. Generally speaking a child will not spontaneously produce: I threw the ball. Spontaneously, a child might say; I throwed the ball and the parent says, "No Little Johnny, I threw the ball". The child obviously is followed the pattern for regular verbs: walk, walked, love, loved. The same is true of have+ went. Some people come from backgrounds where they will be taught have gone just like threw instead of throwed. Others will not and therefore will speak working-class English, which is FINE. No judgement from me there. But, it is a fact.

The article goes on to say:

"The other major level of grammatical organization, SYNTAX, refers to the arrangement of words into larger units such as phrases or sentences. As with morphology, we find that the tendency toward making meaning differences transparent may lead to dialect differentiation in syntax."

There is an entire discussion on that. But my point here is simple:

In a more educated sociolect, where a speaker is otherwise presumed or herself presumes to be speaking standard English due to level of education and class, one would not expect to hear: He has went to the store.

Here is an article by a Forbes magazine contributor all about grammar and mistakes. The man is not a linguist and I am posting this to show that a magazine like Forbes, targeted at conservative, educated speakers do worry about "how to speak correctly". [I repeat, I do not]. I only post this to show that the concern with sociolect is expressed in a publication that caters to an "upper class" audience. This is precisely the type of audience that would like to know that "have went to the store" is a no-no in its own circles.

Here is what James Marshall Crotty asks people to tweet:

"No other aspect of cultural capital more readily marks an educated person than the ability to speak & write English."


  1. Is the pattern have + simple past dialectal?
    Yes, it can be if accompanied by other features of a dialect that show a person is using a dialect.

  2. Can a single feature of a person's speech mean a person is in effect speaking a dialect (regional or social group-wise)?
    No, a dialect must include more than one salient feature of a person's speech.

  3. If the overall speech of a person is considered standard, educated English how can one classify the use of a pattern such as "have went" all other things being equal (the person does not use throwed for thrown, or double negatives etc.)?

  4. My opinion is that the person is making an error in his/her own sociolect (as can be seen in concern for grammar mistakes in a magazine such as Forbes, and often, the person is not even aware of it. The concern is also expressed by two professors. Please read on.

The article the OP mentions by teachers is another indication that there is evidence that in education circles, teachers do in the US would correct it. They correct it as they are attempting to get their students to speak and write standard English.

And here is a college professor who states this too:

Professor Paul Brians gone / went

"This is one of those cases in which a common word has a past participle which is not formed by the simple addition of -ED and which often trip people up. “I should have went to the business meeting, but the game was tied in the ninth” should be “I should have gone. . . .” The same problem crops up with the two forms of the verb “to do.” Say “I should have done my taxes before the IRS called” rather than “I should have did. . . .”

professor's take on past participle error

And here is a professor of English, Anne Curzan:

"Why do some speakers say, “have drank” or “have went” instead of “have drunk” or “have gone”?

You can hear “have drank” or “have went” in regions across the U.S., including the south and midwest. So what’s happening here?"

past participle versus simple past


have went, have did can be part of dialectal speech if those co-occur with other speech factors. On their own, they cannot be considered "dialectal". They may be viewed as a sociolectal or social dialect error in terms of a person's own perception of their speech or social status. In instances of a person actually speaking a working- class dialect, it is not an error. It's just the person's speech.

These two college professors show there is concern about what they call mistakes. College professors and teachers are the ones who set the standards for what is considered right or wrong in grammar.

For me, everything about grammar depends on the "power game" you are playing in language.

The question about have + went has zero to with linguistic correctness and everything to do with social status.

grammar mistakes

syntax and morphology

dialects and sociolects

  • 5
    the Q is not about the grammatical correctness of "have went" but whether it is gaining common currency.
    – aesking
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 18:30
  • 3
    Read distinguishing sociolect vs dialect: a sociolect's main identifier is socioeconomic class, age, gender, and ethnicity in a certain speech community. "Have went" is not restricted to class, age, gender and ethnicity....it's a geographical 'aspect' in some areas of USA and GB (also Scotland) as the OP suggests: "I suspect that it is not limited to “uneducated” people and its usage may be spreading expecially in AmE". // don't @tag me if you don't want me to reply. you're being very self-contradictory.
    – aesking
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 20:44
  • 5
    It seems that the main thrust of your answer is to say that "have went" is neither a dialectal trait, or a sociolect but mostly nonstandard English especially when spoken by uneducated, working class people. Have I interpreted that correctly? Moreover, does any of this answer the OP's question as to its frequency?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 9:26
  • 4
    I said the "main thrust"... seems I got it right. I understood what you meant about the Pan Am guy, the one who now works for the FBI as a fraud expert (Read the book!), but what about Hackney, and Blunt? Both college/university graduates, the latter in the UK, why did they use "have went" in their speech? What makes you so certain that it is a slip up and not "habit"? Anyway, those block quotes in your answer look confusing (to me), when something is in your own words leave out the block quotes. Then again, who am I to tell you what to write or think... do whatever you feel like doing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 14:10
  • 6
    @Lambie In all fairness to your points and obvious sincerity, your answer has nothing whatsoever to do with the question being asked. I'll happily change my downvote if you get all your 'it's a terrible, horrible, society-offending error' out of your system in a single paragraph and spend the rest of your energy and answer addressing what areas have speakers who use this 'mistake' and whether this 'mistake' is becoming more or less common over time. That's what the rest of us are talking about.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 6:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.