I've been studying English for several years now and recently I've started to follow a Facebook group in which there are mostly people from the US. Beside the fact that they use so many acronyms (some of them are quite difficult for me to understand, as we don't use them so much in Italian!),I've found some very curious grammar forms that I've never seen before and even Google couldn't help me. A woman wrote "So we weren't gone on holiday." It is correct?

  • 2
    For what it's worth, this sounds like English from somewhere other than US because of the use of "holiday".
    – Lorel C.
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


The word "gone" can be used as a verb (go, went, gone), adjective or preposition (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gone).

Is/are/was/were/have-has been gone

All of these variations would be grammatical so long as the word "gone" is used as an adjective.

We were gone by the time he arrived (We were no longer present at the location in question).

  • Please add supporting reference/s. 'We were gone on holiday' doesn't sound nearly as idiomatic as 'When we got there, they were gone.' And These Google Ngrams indicate that 'had gone on holiday' is idiomatic, while 'were gone on holiday' isn't.). Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:28

'Gone on holiday' is an idiomatic phrase, and should be considered as a whole rather than as part of the verb 'to go'.


Luckily we were gone on holiday when the house burned down, so no one was hurt.

Here "gone on holiday" is a state or condition of "being away on holiday".

It is quite different from "we were going on holiday".

It's colloquial. A bit more unusual as a negative, I think, but on an informal FB page people can speak how they like. What your FB poster means is "We weren't in the state of being on holiday", ie "We weren't away".

  • It's also possible that your poster was using predictive text which she didn't correct.
    – Mynamite
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 12:40
  • Please add supporting reference/s. These Google Ngrams indicate that 'had gone on holiday' is idiomatic, while 'were gone on holiday' isn't. Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:27
  • @EdwinAshworth I can't find anything about it in grammar sources, but here's another example of someone using it. reddit.com/r/cats/comments/7ognx3/… It's out there and people are saying it.
    – Mynamite
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 18:39
  • But look at the register of some of the English used in that thread. I assume that ELL focuses, as does ELU, on standard English. Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 12:39

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