Common Mistakes in English - Has gone to vs. Has been to

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The present perfect forms have gone to and have been to are often confused in English. However, there are clear differences between the two forms. The present perfect forms have gone to and have been to are commonly used to refer to movement to another place. Notice the differences in the examples below.

Has / Have Gone to - Present Perfect

Has /have gone to refer to someone who has gone to a place but has but not yet returned.

In other words, someone who has gone to Hawaii is still in Hawaii having a good time! Here are some more examples:

He's gone to the bank. He should be back soon.
Where has Tom gone to?
They've gone to the business conference for the week.

Has / Have Been to - Present Perfect

Has / have been to refer to a place which someone has visited at some time in their life. In other words, has been to refers to an experience that involves travel. The form has / have been to always indicate that the person has returned or is no longer there. 

He's been to London many times.
I've been to Disneyland twice.
Ask Tom for some money. He's been to the bank today.

Future Perfect and Past Perfect

Both have been to and have gone to can be used in future and past perfect forms. Had been to indicates that someone has gone to another place and returned. On the other hand, had gone to indicates that the person was not present at some time in the past:

I'd been to a restaurant, so I wasn't hungry when he invited me out to eat. 
They'd gone to the shopping mall, so they weren't home when I arrived.
Helen had been to the presentation by the time the director asked her those questions.
Melanie had gone to the dentist and wasn't available for lunch.

The future perfect forms of will have been to and will have gone to both indicate that a person will have visited a location before a point in time in the future.

In this case, both forms are similar in meaning.

My friends will have already been to the restaurant by the time I give it a try.
Unfortunately, my assistant will have gone to a conference by then. 
Janice will have been to Kenya by the time I get back to work next month.
Kevin will have gone to the meeting, so I won't need to worry about attending.

Test Your Knowledge: Gone to vs Been to Quiz

Do you understand the rules? Test your knowledge with this quiz by choosing the best form based on the information provided:

  1. You're looking for a colleague. You'll get this answer if the colleague is in the building: Peter has been to the dentist this morning, so be careful. OR Peter has gone to the dentist this morning, so you'll need to wait.
  2. You visit a friend, but she's not available at this time. You'll hear this phrase: I'm afraid she's been to the bank. OR I'm afraid she's gone to the bank.
  3. Jack has / have gone to a restaurant for lunch. He'll be back soon.
  4. My colleague has been to / gone to a lawyer to find out if he needs to draw up a new contract, so I can't give you an answer now.
  5. You're friend wasn't at home when you arrived. You hear his sister say: Keith's not home now. He's been to the beach this weekend. OR Keith's not home now. He's gone to the beach this weekend. 

    Answers:

    1. Peter has been to the dentist this morning, so be careful. -> This answer indicates that Peter has been to the dentist and returned.
    2. I'm afraid she's gone to the bank. -> This phrase indicates that she's not in the building at the time of speaking. 
    3. Jack has gone to a restaurant for lunch. -> Remember to conjugate the auxiliary verb have to has for he, she, it or for just one person.
    4. My colleague has gone to a lawyer to find out if he needs to draw up a new contract. -> This sentence indicates that the colleague is out of the office getting the necessary information at the moment. 
    5. Keith's not home now. He's gone to the beach this weekend. -> The second sentence indicates that Keith is at the beach at the moment.

    The difference between have been to and have gone to is just one of many common mistakes made in English.