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English Grammar Reference: Difference between been and gone

  • Been is the past participle of the verb to go when the trip has finished:

They have been to Brazil.

This means that they went to Brazil some time in the past and they have finished their time there.

 

  • Gone is the past participle of the verb to go when the trip hasn't finished yet.

John's gone to work.

This means that John is still at work.

 

Look at the difference:

Has your mother been to London?
Yes she has.
(She's come back and she's at home now)

Has your mother gone to London?
No she hasn't.
(Because she's at home now)

 

  • Been is the past participle of the verb to be when there is no movement involved.

I have been in this room for 1 hour.
He has been in Spain for 6 years.

Because there is no movement involved with the verb to be, the preposition after been is in. When been is the past participle of the verb to go there is clearly movement involved and so the prepostion is to.