Should have gone? or Should have went? ~ 5 Minute Grammar Lesson

I haven’t written a 5 Minute Grammar post in a long time…and it’s high time for a new one!

should have gone or should have went

I’m not sure if my topic today is an Iowa-ism, or a common problem, but I hear it so often here in Iowa, it grates on me. Even my own dear hubs gets this one wrong, which is confusing to me. I don’t remember him saying this before we moved to Iowa in 2006 – but as often as I hear it now – and as many times as I have “gently” (and not so gently) corrected him – it must be normal to him or he would fix it. :-(

Which is right?

I should have gone to the store.


I should have went to store.

If you chose #2, you’re WRONG!  If you chose #1, you’re RIGHT!


If you got it right, pat yourself on the shoulder (or your back if you can reach it…)! :-)

The nitty gritty for this particular grammar rule involves irregular verbs and past participles. If you really care, read this.

Otherwise, please trust me. I teach College Composition. I have a Master’s Degree in English. Never, ever, ever, ever say “I SHOULD HAVE WENT.”  Or, for that matter, never put have and went together in any construction. Have and Went never go next to each other in educated English.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Enjoy!



  1. says

    Tell us how you really feel. :)

    I get to pat myself on the back. The “should have went” didn’t look right or sound right. I enjoy your little lessons. It’s been forever since I was in school and grammar was not my strongest subject. I imagine I will need to re-learn anyway.

  2. Lisa says

    I got it right :) I understand how these incorrect phrases can bother a person ;) In Beeville a lot of people used to say, “get off the car” or “get on the car” instead of in or out of the car…drove me nuts!

  3. says

    Yipee! Patting myself on the back. Whew! Thanks goodness, since I homeschool my DD! Tee Hee! ;) Now, I do have to say I have been known to use incorrect grammar. I was always more of a math/science girl.

  4. says

    I knew I was right! Iowa-born and educated even(!), but just saw comments from my son’s former middle school ENGLISH teacher (of all things) here in Tennessee where she wrote, “I should have went…” and I thought, “huh???” Had to google it myself and found your blog. Maybe it is the way they are teaching kids all over the country these days, b/c I sure learned the correct usage and IN Iowa! ;)

  5. says

    Would you please explain to me what is wrong with the following sentence?

    “What if they hadn’t went ahead with the fake traffic study?”

    I was told that the correct form is this:

    What if they hadn’t gone ahead with the fake traffic study”?

    Doesn’t “hadn’t” (had not) allow for went and/or gone? Can’t it be either of the two in this case?

    Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Hi Philip, actually they both do NOT work and gone is the right choice in your example too. You can’t say “had went” in any context, in the affirmative or negative. Ever. You need the past perfect here, not the simple past. Went means the action of going is finished. You can never use ‘went’ after have, had, has, or is. Gone must be used with those words (or a form of the verb ‘be’).

  6. beverly says

    Thank you! This infraction is one of my biggest grammar pet peeves. I just read it in news article. I also heard a first grade teacher saying it incorrectly. It was all I could do to not correct her.

  7. Riley says

    Which one is phrased properly:
    “yesterday couldn’t have went any better” or “yesterday couldn’t have gone any better.”
    Or how can I rephrase the sentence to make it sound better?

    • says

      Hi Riley,
      The second one is phrased correctly: Yesterday couldn’t have gone any better. It doesn’t matter if you add other words better have and gone – the answer is still the same. Could NOT HAVE GONE. :-) Michelle


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge