I have have a hard time to understand the differences. Would you please explain the differences?


You went to Chile, didn't you?


  1. No, but I had gone to Peru, which is right next door.
  2. No, but I was gone to Peru, which is right next door.
  3. No, but I did go to Peru, which is right next door.
  4. No, but I was going Peru, which is right next door.
  • 3
    Given the question used went, I'd have thought most people would simply reflect that with No, but I went to Peru. You'd probably only use the "emphatic" form but I did go to Peru if you had some special reason. Perhaps you want to divert the topic of the conversation away from Chile and towards something you do know about. Or perhaps you just feel "apologetic" that you have to disabuse the questioner, and you're trying to make up for it with ...but I did something nearly as good! Sep 5, 2016 at 0:11
  • “I did go” emphasizes the contrast between Perú and Chile (that I visited one and not the other). It also gently suggests that the asker heard about my trip to Perú and mis-remembered it as a trip to Chile. — To me, “No, but I went” sounds slightly odd; I'd omit the “but”. Sep 5, 2016 at 8:09

3 Answers 3


I think we can answer the question by ruling out the incorrect options.

  1. I had gone to Peru, which is right next door.

This sentence is in past perfect tense. Past perfect is used to avoid ambiguity when we mention two events that happened in the past. We use the past perfect for the earlier event. However, in many cases the chronological order is obvious; then we can use the simple past tense without causing any ambiguity.

  1. I was gone to Peru, which is right next door.

Here, "gone" is an adjective. At the first glance I confused it with a passive structure, but the verb "go" is an intransitive verb. By the way, the adjective "gone" describes "leaving a place". Therefore, it does not make sense in this context.

  1. I did go to Peru, which is right next door.

I think this sentence does not have a serious problem in terms of using tenses.

  1. I was going Peru, which is right next door.

In this sentence we have the past progressive (or continuous) tense. Progressive aspects are used to talk about a process. "I was going to Peru" implies that you were in the middle of your trip, for example somewhere between Peru and the location where you started your journey.

Therefore, as a learner, I would choose the third answer among those four options.


There are four aspects in English: Simple, Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect Progressive. Here's the wikipedia article on it.



I went to Peru.

This is the simple past. From the Wikipedia article:

Simple constructions normally denote a single action, a repeated action, or a relatively permanent state.

The simple is used to note a single, basic action. It can also be used to describe something that occurs every X units of time.


I was going to Peru.

This is the past progressive. From the Wikipedia article:

The progressive or continuous aspect is used to denote a temporary action or state that began at a previous time and continues into the present time (or other time of reference).

The progressive is used when something is started and is still going on relative to the context. For example, "When I was going to Peru, a bird hit the window of the airplane." That means that the bird hit the window while I was still going to Peru.


I had gone to Peru.

This is the perfect. From the Wikipedia article:

The perfect aspect is used to denote the circumstance of an action's being complete at a certain time.

This is used to give context to an event by describing something that happened further back in the past. For example, "I had gone to Peru before, but the second time I went to Peru I was still amazed by the culture."

Perfect Progressive

I had been going to Peru.

This is the perfect progressive. From the Wikipedia article:

The perfect and progressive aspects can be combined, usually in referring to the completed portion of a continuing action or temporary state.

A combination of the perfect and the progressive. For example, "By the time I became fully fluent in Spanish, I had been going to Peru every summer for six years."

"was gone" is using the perfect passive participle as an adjective, and the sentence "I was gone to Peru" is not grammatically correct. (Not anymore at least, but that's an excursion for another day.)

Out of those four options, "*No, but I did go to Peru, which is right next door." is the most grammatically correct in this context. It uses the simple past because it is describing a single action which happened in the past, and gives no chronological context to another phrase.


Did [verb] is used for emphasis.

"There's no way you went to Peru!" "But I did go!"

"You've never even tried my food." "I did try it once. It was awful."

1: "had gone" refers to going before a fixed time in the past, but there's no sensible time in the past set up. 2: "was gone" is usually just used in English when the location is unknown. "I went to get my cake, but it was gone." (Someone probably ate it.) "I went to the store to get a refund, but the manager was gone." (He wasn't there.) I've never heard someone say "was gone to someplace." 4: →"was going to Peru" = This means you were traveling to Peru. I.e., you were on a plane. It could be part of a longer story, but it's not a very logical statement alone.


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