Joe and Lisa are on holiday in Japan. They’ve been to Japan once before. This is the second time they have been to Japan.

Why use 'been' instead of 'gone' in the last sentense, shouldn't we use 'gone' to express that they are already in Japan? I was confused.

  • Does this answer your question? Using have gone to / been to / been in. You can also look at this question although the answers are less good.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:28
  • @StuartF That answer says that MareWalker is correct in thinking it's incorrect to use "have been" in the context where they're still there. Is that what you meant?
    – gotube
    Sep 27, 2022 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


It's true that "they've been to X" usually means they're not there anymore. This is a semantic rule, not a grammar rule, so as long as it's clear in the context that they're still in Japan, everything's fine. English speakers often use "have been to" to talk about people who are still there. In fact, someone in Japan could ask them, "Have you been to Japan before?" and it would still be correct and natural.

To be clear, if there's no context, and someone said, "They've been to Japan", I would understand that to mean they're not in Japan anymore.

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