I am gone, I am come ['To be' with past participle]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Thomas Tompion, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I have long thought:

    1. that to be + past participle is a passive form.
    2. that only transitive verbs can have passive forms.
    3. that to go and to come are intransitive verbs.

    After he is gone

    May 10th 2007
    From The Economist print edition
    Life after Tony Blair will have some surprises

    'They are come to visit us at Christmas, out of the world where all live to God; and to tell you some of their old fairy tales, which they loved when they were young like you.'
    From Heroes, Charles Kingsley.

    We come across such examples all the time. What form of the verb is it?
  2. The Scrivener Banned

    On the "naughty step".
    England. English

    Hi Thomas,

    Your examples are formed by adding the past participle to the present tense and thus are in the present perfect tense.
  3. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Good evening Thomas,

    I think that this is about using these forms as adjectives.
    These are normally used as past participles to form either perfect tenses or passive voice, but in your examples they are used as adjectives. Past participle is employed in this function quite often.

    Let's have a look at I'm finished which is of the kind of the expressions you provided.
    I have finished. -- present perfect, nothing strange in it.
    I am finished. -- present simple, finished acts as an adjective here, compare My marriage is finished.

    He has gone. --present perfect
    He is gone. -- present simple, gone can have a few meaning here, click.


    PS: go and come are also transitive verbs.
  4. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I believe that "to go" and "to come" used to be conjugated with "to be" rather than "to have", so perhaps the occasional use like that is just a throwback to that time.
  5. The Scrivener Banned

    On the "naughty step".
    England. English
    I agree with that, timpeac. I was thinking of the French passé composé for "he is gone", "they are come".
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    "He is risen" the "the Lord is risen" is also heard in the Easter celebration, so there's another one to add to the throwbacks. :)
  7. rafaelgan Senior Member

    I still wonder if it's correct to say"He is gone" or shuld it be "He's gone"?
  8. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    That's very interesting timpeac. Do you have any evidence for it? We find both forms in Shakespeare; for instance, here's the start of sonnet 110:

    Alas! 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
    And made my self a motley to the view,
    Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
    Made old offences of affections new;

    Here's Cleopatra dragging Antony up to the monument:

    But come, come Antony, --
    Help me, my women,--we must draw thee up:
    Assist, good friends.


    O, quick, or I am gone.
  9. Rivendell

    Rivendell Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain

    I learned that these expressions (i.e., "I'm gone", "I'm finished"...) are idiomatic. In these examples, the past participle has turned into an adjective, that's why you can use the verb "to be".

    Please, tell me if you think I'm talking nonsense... :eek:
  10. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    No, I'm afraid not (which is why I was stressing the "believe") - I have just noted the usage now and again, as you have done there in Shakespeare. He was writing at a time of some flux in English, so I suppose the question is whether he is adding a different nuance depending on whether he uses "have gone" or "am gone", or whether it is a purely stylistic choice with little real difference in meaning - and I don't know the answer to that.
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum <<PongoMod>> EO'Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    While I have the British National Corpus in mind, here are some counts:
    ... have gone - 2659
    ... am gone - 13
    ... are gone - 128
    ... is gone - 184

    ... have come - 2797

    ... am come - 5
    ... are come - 18
    ... is come - 35

    There is a generally dusty feel about the examples given.
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Even the Economist one from May 10th, 2007, Panj?

    Do you think it's a deliberate archeism?
  13. panjandrum

    panjandrum <<PongoMod>> EO'Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Now that I stare fixedly at the Economist example, I worry about it - not a lot, you know, just a little.

    It's the use of after that bothers me. When he is gone wouldn't bother me, but for some reason I cringe slightly (now) at after he is gone. I think it's because gone in he is gone feels very like an adjective, and after he goes he will always be gone, so after he is gone doesn't make sense (and this sentence might not either).

    (Thought provoked by posts above from Thomas1 and Rivendell.)
  14. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I think I see what you are saying. To draw another example, you would prefer "after he has died" to "after he is dead", but would see little to pick between "when he is dead" and "when he has died"?
  15. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I have been pondering over this phenomenon and come up with some questions:

    Are the following aceptable to you:
    The sun was not yet risen.
    When he got up the sun was well risen.
    Kim is gone for five months
    I'm so done?=I'm so tired???
    He was come a few minutes ago.
    They were finished yesterday.
    I am also thinking whether be is an auxiliary here and am wondering if you would use any other copula than be with the mentioned so far forms.

    Would you say:
    He is gone to the store?
    They are done the homework. (Personally, I wouldn't use this one, and am unsure about the first one)

    I think that there can be a grain of truth in what timepac and The Scrivener have written. IMHO it is very much probable that a few centuries ago have and be were/could be used as auxiliaries of perfect tense. It can also be the case that it is both a relict of perfect and an indicator of a copula (since how to interpret I'm so done?).

  16. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Ok, my feelings on the various sentences in colour below (sorry can't be bothered to cut and paste all the quotes otherwise!)

    I'm so done with all these questions!:D
  17. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    And, since I'm sitting in Atlanta, Georgia, at the moment, I can only think of the American classic novel: Gone with the Wind
  18. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    And for us poor Brits, or at least this poor Brit, what do you mean??
  19. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Sorry. Gone with the wind is an American classic novel of by Margaret Mitchell who wrote the novel in Atlanta and it is set in Atlanta, Georgia, the heart of the American South.

    The pertinence here is that the subject of the sentence is understood (way of life or the character, Tara) is gone (with the wind.)
  20. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    She has a new boyfriend; I am afraid I'm history.

    Effectively "I'm history" is the same as "I am gone".

    "I'm history" sounds entirely natural to me.

    I think "I am gone" sounds a bit strange; but "I'm gone" does not.
  21. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Oh thanks, yes I know the book (although I do admit I haven't read it), but how do you know from the phrase "gone with the wind" that it is "is" that is understood and not "has" - "Tara has gone with the wind"?
  22. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Check that Wikipedia reference. It might be a bit thin, I admit.
  23. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    I remember Elizabeth saying "Jane is come!" in BBC's Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The frequency of the use of "have -p.p." exceded "be -p.p." at the end of 18th century. I learned that the former form is "newer" that appeared in Middle English.
    For some reason, "be -p.p." for motion verbs has almost disappeared, except for some idiomatic expressions (I'm finished. He's gone.)
  24. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Ok read it, but sorry I still don't see why "gone with the wind" is necessarily short for "is gone with the wind" has opposed to "has gone with the wind".
  25. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    I agree with those who have said that these are adjective forms, and are not being used as verbs at all.
    This being the case, I also agree with panj's comment that "After he is gone" is not very correct, it should be "After he has gone" or "When he is gone". "After he is gone" is presumably when he has come back (or is come back!?).
  26. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Yes, it's interesting that semantically "I'm back!" and "I have returned" are very similar, and yet you could not swap the auxiliaries over and still be correct.
  27. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    Hmm. "I'm returned" sounds OK to me (well, a little odd but similar to "when you're gone"), but yes, "I have back" is nonsense.
  28. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Really? Goes to show how subjective all this is because it sounds like nonsense to my ear!! I would find it hard to imagine someone saying "he is returned" without adding something like "my liege"!:)
  29. AWordLover

    AWordLover Senior Member

    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    USA English
    Hi All,

    1) After he has gone. [After he has left. Maybe this could mean died.]
    2) After he is gone. [After he has left, possibly forever. After he has died.]

    1) After he has gone to sleep, we need to party more quietly.

    2) You're all treating him miserably. You'll be sorry after he's gone. You'll regret that you never told him how much you loved him.

    I think the contraction here is more likely to be he is gone [ie, dead], than he has gone.
  30. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    That's exactly the kind of context I was thinking of, I didn't mean to suggest I'd use it in everyday conversation.
  31. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I'm gone!

    I'm here!

    I'm home! (My Dad used to say this when he came home from work.)

    This sounds slightly conversational.
  32. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    My 0,02 $ (or £ or €, whichever you like), in the form of a conclusion.

    1. In some instances, be is a verb in its own right, i.e. not an auxiliary and the following word functions as an adjective, not a past participle.
    Those days are gone
    (they're no longer here)

    2. In some others, be is an auxiliary all right, a survival of an old form, as in....
    They are come to visit us at Christmas.
  33. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    In response to the request for a reference in a earlier post (#8?), the following is taken from the OED entries on have and be:

    From OED online:

    have as an auxiliary verb:
    "As in the other Germanic (and Romanic) languages, the various moods and tenses of have are used with the past participle of another verb, to form a series of compound or ‘perfect’ tenses of the latter..... [The entry explains how the use of have as an auxiliary developed from its meaning: to possess] .... Verbs of motion and position long retained the earlier use of the auxiliary be; and he is gone is still used to express resulting state, while he has gone expresses action. See BE 14b".

    be as an auxiliary verb:
    "[Be is used as an auxiliary verb] in intransitive verbs, forming perfect tenses, in which use it is now largely displaced by have after the pattern of transitive verbs: be being retained only with come, go, rise, set, fall, arrive, depart, grow, and the like, when we express the condition or state now attained, rather than the action of reaching it, as ‘the sun is set,’ ‘our guests are gone,’ ‘Babylon is fallen,’ ‘the children are all grown up'."

    (The final comment on usage seems to agree with WordLover a few posts back.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2008
  34. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Thank you very much for this, Cagey. Very interesting.
  35. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I recall a dialogue from Shakespeare that was either

    "I am killed."


    "I am murdered"

    I cannot remember the play or who said it however.
  36. dottorT New Member

    is it right to write:
    Frederic is come back.

    I thought the right form was: Frederic is back
    Frederic is come.

  37. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Hi - no it's not. English only uses the verb "to have" with a past participle no matter what the verb is.

    Frederic has come back.
    Frederic has come.

    "Frederic is back" is fine, but here "back" is an adjective describing Frederic, not a verb (or perhaps short for "Frederic has come back").
  38. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hi Tim,

    This directly contradicts what Cagey says in post 34. I must admit to being with Cagey on this.
  39. pismo Senior Member

    English -- USA
    Great discussion!

    When I see "is gone," I think of it as short for "is gone away," or "not here."

    "He is gone" answers the question "Where is he?"

    "He has gone" answers the question "What did he do?"
  40. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    If you are asking whether it is correct then the answer is yes, it is. However, I have some misgivings about whether many Engish speakers would use it in modern English in a casual conversation. EDIT: I would like to see some comments by native speakers on this. You may find many similar examples in literature, though.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  41. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Oh - I must admit that I missed that (or forgot - I hadn't noticed how old this thread is). However, having read it now I don't agree. Seriously, if I said "where is John?" would you say "he is gone to the shops?" (here we are not interested in the process but in the result as required). Have you ever said "Oh great! Jack and Mary are arrived!"

    By the way - Cagey didn't say anthing, it was just a quote of a dictionary so I'm not sure of the conclusion we're meant to draw from it. I don't disagree with any of the examples in themselves just with the grammatical analysis which ultimately is human opinion superimposed on what we see language does. Most of the time past participles and adjectives are identical (and perhaps the former had their origin in the later and thus the comment from the OED) but I would argue that in "the guests are gone" "gone" is effectively an adjective by analogy with "all the windows are open". Here we have a rare example of a past participle and adjective having different form and "all the windows are opened" suggests that we are talking about someone walking round opening them rather than commenting on their on-going state. Another example is the fact that I find "the guest are gone" fine but "the guests are gone back to their hotel" strange.
  42. mrxkms Senior Member

    Please, I want to know the simple meaning of I am gone
    is it the instant after when I go? or does mean that when I die?
    I really got confused.
  43. panjandrum

    panjandrum <<PongoMod>> EO'Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You need to give us the context and a full sentence. The comments above should illustrate some of the possible variations in meaning of such an apparently simple statement :)
  44. mrxkms Senior Member

    What if someone tells me that he he is gone? How shall I understand what he wants to convey?

    Here is a poem by Christina Rossetti

    REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
    Gone far away into the silent land;
    When you can no more hold me by the hand,
    Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

    [...... excess quotation deleted by moderator]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2009
  45. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello, mrxkms

    In the poem, "when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land" means "when I am dead".
  46. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    And the sad truth is that in everyday circumstances - the poem is wonderful! - we say I have gone, and I have gone away, and don't talk much of silent lands.
  47. sunyaer Senior Member


    How would "my liege" be added to "he is returned" to form a complete sentence? And what would it mean? (the context?)
  48. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think Tim's point was that the form of words is archaic - not used at all today. Nobody calls anyone else 'my liege' either.
  49. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    The question of the verb to be forming the perfect is addressed in “A General Critical Grammar of the Inglish Language” by Samuel Oliver Jnr. (London 1825)1 at pages 113-114 (I have kept the spelling.)

    Oliver, whose English is antiquated even by the writing of the time, seems to take German grammar as his guide.

    It is a little long but well out of copyright.
    1 An interesting book, not least for its use of ‘propreantepenultimate’.
  50. sunyaer Senior Member

    Would you say "he is gone to the shops" and "Oh great! Jack and Mary are arrived!" ?

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