GONE, Not Went

The past participle of the verb to gogone — tops the ever-growing Endangered Past Participles list, though run and done are busily vying for No.1.* The likes of the correct “I should have gone an hour earlier” becomes “I should have went an hour earlier” more and more frequently, even from the lips of those boasting two or more advanced degrees.

And gone isn’t the only past participle falling by the wayside. Today it seems hardly anyone under 50 says (or writes) “I really shouldn’t have drunk so much last night,” but instead replaces the proper drunk with the past tense drank  — a grammatical slip sometimes found in respectable publications as well. (How we miss you, Mr. and Ms. Copyeditor!)

What to do about it? If you care enough to get it right, browse a style manual now and then… and, if you feel it necessary, take notes. After all, not all armchair reading need be devoted to novels, nonfiction, and magazines.

*WRONG: “She had ran for office twice before.” RIGHT: “She had run for office twice before.”  WRONG: “He had did that with his pocket knife since he was 7.” RIGHT: “He had done that with his pocket knife since he was 7.” 

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