proved vs. proven

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kyuss, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. kyuss Member

    Spain / Spanish & Galician
    Any difference between them?
  2. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Of course, prove is a verb, so proved is the preterite.
    Proven is an adjective.
  3. Becky85 Senior Member

    England, English
    Some examples of the difference between them:

    She proved him wrong.
    He proved she was wrong.

    It was proven that he was wrong.

    Proven is used passively.
    Proven as whodunit said is an adjective.

    Hope that's useful.
    Even English native speakers get confused between the two.
  4. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    to prove-
    he proves- present
    he proved- past
    He has proven- past participle
    It is proven (as an adjective)
  5. dave

    dave Senior Member

    UK - English
    The past participle of prove can be either proved or proven - both are acceptable.

    Proven may be more common in AmE and proved more common in BrE.
  6. Sextus Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    As far I as know, Dave is completely right about this.

  7. tdbostick New Member

    Hessen, Germany
    English - USA
    Prove = transitive verb, simple present tense; or 'to prove' in the infinitive.
    Proved = transitive verb, simple past tense; also the preferred past participle used with 'have' (e.g. "I have proved my theory.").
    Proven = adjective describing a noun; or an alternate past participle used with 'have,' predominantly in informal speech. "This is a proven technique." - good, formal English. "He has proven to be trustworthy." - common informal speech, but not recommended for more formal writing.
  8. Kumpel Senior Member

    London, England
    British English
    To me, a Briton:
    I prove.
    I proved.
    I have proven.

    In the 'beat poem' Storm by Tim Minchin, an Australian comedic song writer, he says:
    Do you know what they call herbal remedies that have been proved to work? Medicine.

    Past perfect passive is obviously proved to an Aussie, but I don't know about active.

  9. To this other Briton, I have proved is the preferred usage.

  10. cyb3r.dani New Member

    So, just to be sure... While writing a thesis about Statistics, I should use:

    It can be proved that A>B.

    Is this correct?
  11. Kumpel Senior Member

    London, England
    British English
    As has been said, there are differing opinions.
    As I've said, I think proven works here.

  12. And as I've said, I prefer proved.

    I only use proven as an adjective.

  13. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Here's an AHD usage note:
    Prove has two past participles: proved and proven. Proved is the older form. Proven is a variant. The Middle English spellings of prove included preven, a form that died out in England but survived in Scotland, and the past participle proven, a form that probably rose by analogy with verbs like weave, woven and cleave, cloven. Proven was originally used in Scottish legal contexts, such as The jury ruled that the charges were not proven. In the 20th century, proven has made inroads into the territory once dominated by proved, so that now the two forms compete on equal footing as participles. However, when used as an adjective before a noun, proven is now the more common word: a proven talent.
  14. Dreamcass New Member

    English - United States
    Here’s the very long version of what many others have said in this forum. Sorry I'm not as concise, but I hope I can alleviate some confusion.

    If you use 'proven' as an adjective, then you should say "have/has/had/is/are/was proven." This is because what some people on this forum are saying is the "adjective form" is really the passive tense. There really is no "adjective form" of a verb, but rather, the active tense (ing) and the passive tense (ed/en) can be used as adjectives. Don't believe me? There's a difference between "a well-running car" (intransitive, active) and "a well-run car" (passive). The passive tense (often called past or passive participle) is different from the preterit (simple past tense) form of a verb. For example, went/gone, saw/seen, ate/eaten, sang/sung; the list goes on.

    In the past, the past tense and passive tense were different, but because of language change, the two forms have become homophones for many verbs, such as in 'to say' (she said, she has said). This leads to a lot of confusion. In English, you only inflect 'to have' and 'to be' when these are used as auxiliary verbs. Thus, you say, "I have seen that movie," but not "I have saw that movie." "The team was beaten," not, "The team was beat." Likewise, you say, "I have proven my innocence", not "I have proved my innocence" because that would be a double inflection!!

    We don't say, 'have gave', 'have wove', 'have saw', 'have stole', etc.
    We say, "have given," and "God-given right"
    "have woven" and "tightly woven fabric"
    "have stolen" and "stolen goods"
    "have seen" and "never-before seen footage"

    So why should you say, 'have proved' when you would say 'a proven technique'? Test this pattern with every other word in which the passive and past tense differ. You will see no exception to this rule. So why would you make the verb "to prove" the only exception? Likewise, if you tend to say, "a proved technique," you should always say, "have proved." Either both ‘proved’ and 'proven' have merged like for many other verbs in the language that you speak, or they haven't. You can't choose to use 'proven' when it's used as an adjective and use 'proved' when it forms the passive or perfect past constructions such as "is proved," or "has proved." You will sound inconsistent!
  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello Dreamcass - welcome to the forums!
    Oh yes you can - like Rover (post 12) I do!:)
  16. ChungIfei New Member

    English - U.S.
    I agree that many people use proved in circumstances such as the above ("It can be proved that A > B."), but proven is certainly not incorrect here. Would you also say, "It can be showed that A > B"?
  17. Welcome to the board, ChungIfei.

    Please stay on-topic.

    We're not talking about showed vs shown.

  18. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    I have melted the iron. It is now molten iron. And I have drunk too much. I am now a drunken linguist. Several other verbs do have distinct adjective forms related to their past participles.

    Personally I use proven as the adjective and can freely use either as the past participle.
  19. eni8ma

    eni8ma Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Actually, past perfect passive is obviously proved to Tim Minchin.

    Just because he's a fellow Aussie, doesn't mean he speaks for all of us.

    Personally, I say "proven", but can't say that I object all that much if someone says "proved" instead. It doesn't seem important somehow, perhaps because it is often mis-used.

    For my own use, I agree with everyone else - I prove, I proved, I have proven.

    An Aussie :)
  20. ChungIfei New Member

    English - U.S.
    You are right. Proved is still the preferred past participle for to prove, though I can understand why someone would want to use proven.
  21. King of Pedants New Member

    Atlantic Canada
    English - Canada
    According to OED, "proven" is prevalent in North America and derives from Scots; it's from analogy with "woven" etc., though derived from Fr. prouver < L. probare. So both are right, just don't go back and forth!
  22. OrdoInformaticae New Member

    English - United States
    These appear to be holdovers from middle / old English, where the past participles were (ge)molten and (ge)druncen. They now only remain as attribute adjectives, as contrasted with predicate adjectives, but even this is not always the case:

    • The iron was melted. Molten iron.
    • The chocolate was melted. Melted chocolate.

    Here, molten chocolate does not sound incorrect to me, just slightly flowery or poetic. That is to say, not everyday language. To my ear, molten suggests something that is very, very hot and in some cases isn't melted by human means, i.e. molten lava.

    As for drunken, I don't know how frequently each variation is said, but I know that both seem possible to me:

    • The linguist was drunk. The drunken linguist OR The drunk linguist.

    Here again, drunken just seems more... 'fancy'. I apologize if that is imprecise. I think it's interesting to note that these holdover adjectives come from the past participles of their origins, even if that is no longer the case in modern English. I agree with Dreamcass when they say that the adjective form of verbs is nearly always the past participle. That certainly seems the most natural.

    As for proved and proven, the word has a Latin origin, so its Old English root did not follow the Germanic strong paradigms. It was a weak verb with past participle of provod. So proven is a relatively recent change by analogy with woven and cloven as far as I can tell.

    For what it's worth, I say proven in all relevant cases ^^.

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