In a british movie, two students in a boarding school are sitting in a classroom environment and are talking about their school and teacher.

  • Student A: I wish the teacher would let us go fishing. Have you ever been fishing?
  • Student B: Fishing is boring.

This usage caught my attention as it does not sound correct to me.

According to what we were taught at school, you can say "Have you ever gone fishing?" if you are asking about if someone has had any experience in terms of fishing activity, which is what the student A is definitely trying to find out in this dialogue.

Or you can say to someone who is currently fishing "Have you been fishing for 2 hours?", if you are asking about how long the fishing activity has been going on. But this time you CANT use "EVER" which refers to "EVER IN YOUR LIFE".

So, in the dialogue, Student A is trying to find out if student B has any experience in fishing and he is not asking about how long he has been fishing, because there is currently not a fishing activity that is going on. They are just sitting in a classroom and talking.

So, my question 1: Is "Have you ever been FISHING"? a correct usage when asking about someone's experience?

my question 2: Would it not have been better if he said: "Have you ever gone fishing"?


  • Everything you've said is normal and natural speech. And you certainly can say Have you ever been fishing for two hours? to someone who's currently fishing. If they've already been fishing for two hours, you might add before to the end of the sentence. – Jason Bassford Apr 29 '19 at 10:05

I don't understand why you are having a problem with this - it is perfectly correct, as gone and been are synonymous in this case.

Both are commonly used for 'doing' an activity.

Perhaps 'fishing' is confusing you, so compare instead:

Have you ever gone to the rugby?


Have you ever been to the rugby?

Both sentences have identical meanings.

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  • Or, perhaps even more simply, “Have you ever been/gone to Rugby?” – James Random Apr 29 '19 at 9:46
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    @JamesRandom Your example has a completely different meaning - Rugby is a place, whereas this topic is about activities. – Mike Brockington Apr 29 '19 at 10:38
  • Fair point, as it is the activity that confuses, rather than the more general equivalence of "been" and "gone". (I just re-read the question and that seems to be the case.) – James Random Apr 29 '19 at 10:41
  • Mike, First of all, I know what "been to" means. e.g I have been to Paris.But in the sentence, there is no "BEEN TO", there is "BEEN+GERUND" which is unusual. He is saying "Have you ever been fishing?" He is not saying "Have you ever been to fishing?" Secondly, you say "gone" and "been" are synonymous. I don't agree. Because "gone" can be synonymous with "been to", not with "BEEN+GERUND. – yunus Apr 29 '19 at 13:52
  • @yunus I said that "gone" and "been" are synonymous in this case, and I said that because it is true. English is famous for having very few rules, and more exceptions to those rules than actual rules. I can't make any comment on what you were taught at school, rather I am commenting as a native speaker. – Mike Brockington Apr 29 '19 at 14:15

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