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  1. #1
    Metathron is offline Newbie
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    Went to vs has gone to

    Hi all,

    I am unsure what the difference is between these two sentences:

    1. She went to prison.

    2. She's gone to the prison.

    In both cases, she is now in prison, right?

    Is the difference only in tense, i.e. in the first case this happened in the past, and in the second this also happened in the past, but it could've been very recently, so as to have a connection with the present?

    Thanks you.

  2. #2
    sarat_106 is offline Key Member
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    Exclamation Re: Went to vs has gone to

    The second sentence is in the present perfect and not in the simple past. You must use appropriate time expressions to notice the difference in the sentences. For example:
    She went to prison a few years ago. ( She might not be in the prison by now)
    She has gone to prison recently. (She is now in the prison)

    Please note I am not a professional teacher. You may wait for comments from our experts.

  3. #3
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    Snowcake is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by Metathron View Post
    Hi all,

    I am unsure what the difference is between these two sentences:

    1. She went to prison.

    This is a tricky one but not because of the tenses.

    "She was arrested after the incident last night, and is now waiting for her release."

    Without the definite article:
    The general idea of "prison", not a specific location. Here prison is referred as an institution.

    2. She's gone to the prison.

    I'm inclined to say that the definite article here alters the meaning. 'THE' prison shows that a particular location is meant, the building as such.


    "She has just gone to the prison to see her imprisoned husband. So she's not at home at the moment."

    In both cases, she is now in prison, right?

    Is the difference only in tense, i.e. in the first case this happened in the past, and in the second this also happened in the past, but it could've been very recently, so as to have a connection with the present?

    You are right with your suggestion as regards the tenses. For more see here:

    http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/Tenses4.cfm

    But your query also includes the usage of (definite) articles.

    Thanks you.
    Last edited by Snowcake; 25-May-2008 at 12:50.

  4. #4
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    heidita is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by Metathron View Post
    1. She went to prison. She was sent to prison, she is a criminal.

    2. She's gone to the prison. she went to the prison to visit somebody.

    Thanks you.
    The clue is in using the article or not. Same difference with:

    She is in hospital. She is sick.

    She is in the hospital. She went to visit her mother who is sick.

  5. #5
    Metathron is offline Newbie
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    I agree it is tricky.

    So the catch is in the use of articles, then?

    When we're referring to a prison, hospital, etc as an institution there is NO ARTICLE; When we're talking about the building, we use the definite article, just like in heidita's examples.

    The tenses do not appear to be a distinguishing feature in this case, do they?

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Soup's Avatar
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by Metathron View Post
    I agree it is tricky.

    So the catch is in the use of articles, then?

    When we're referring to a prison, hospital, etc as an institution there is NO ARTICLE;
    In BrE possibly, but in North American English the noun hospital always takes a determiner.

  7. #7
    Soup's Avatar
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    The present perfect (e.g., has gone) places focus on the event, not the time when the event happened. As a result, the meaning is expresses could be 'before' or 'recently'.

    2. She's gone to the prison.
    a) She has gone to prison before, and is on her way there now She is not in prison at the moment.

    b) She has recently gone to prison, and is still there now.
    The simple past places focus on when the event happened, which is why time can be specified:

    1. She went to prison... But when?
    a) She went to prison 5 years ago and is no longer there now.

    b) She went to prison 5 years ago and is still there now.
    The simple past and the present perfect can express the same meaning; however, with the present perfect, having to state or assume the time something happened is not necessary, because the perfect focuses on events, not time. So, for example, if someone asks you if you read the latest Harry Potter book, you could answer, "Yes, I have" or "No, I haven't", both of which refer to the event, read a Harry Potter book, not to the dates that you actually read it, because you wouldn't know or it'd take time to think about.


  8. #8
    heidita's Avatar
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    2. She's gone to the prison.
    a) She has gone to prison before, and is on her way there now She is not in prison at the moment.

    b) She has recently gone to prison, and is still there now.
    I am sorry, I don't agree with you. In any case, we are not talking about : go to prison, but go to THE prison.

    She is going to the prison indicates by no means that the person is an intern.
    She is in prison , does.

  9. #9
    Soup's Avatar
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    She is going to the prison indicates by no means that the person is an intern.
    She is in prison , does.
    I can't seem to understand what you mean. Could you explain it in other words?

  10. #10
    rj1948 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Went to vs has gone to

    Quote Originally Posted by Metathron View Post
    Hi all,

    I am unsure what the difference is between these two sentences:

    1. She went to prison.

    2. She's gone to the prison.

    In both cases, she is now in prison, right?

    Is the difference only in tense, i.e. in the first case this happened in the past, and in the second this also happened in the past, but it could've been very recently, so as to have a connection with the present?

    Thanks you.
    She went to prison.No 'THE' before prison.She was interned in prison undergoing prison sentence.
    She has gone to THE prison.She has gone to see her relatives or friends in prison .
    TENSE :She went to prison . She is not in prison now.
    She has gone to prison .PRESENT PERFECT.a PAST ACTIVITY ;SOMEWAY CONNECTED WITH THE PRESENT.

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