Are both alternatives correct in this sentence?

Let's enjoy the party now. Later, when all the guests are gone, we can talk about this.

Let's enjoy the party now. Later, when all the guests be gone, we can talk about this.

2 Answers 2


No, be gone is not grammatically correct. I believe it is used in some dialects, but in normal English be gone! is only used as the imperative, meaning "go away".
... when all the guests are gone ... works OK, but probably most native speakers would say ... when all the guests have gone ...
Note that guests is plural and the verb must match.

  • 1
    When all the guests be gone would be correct in older stages of English; you might well find it in Shakespeare, for example. Subordinators like if and when were previously followed by the subjunctive mood when introducing irrealis clauses. It’s still just about possible, in very archaising, high registers to do this with if (perhaps influenced by the famous quote, “If music be the food of love, play on”), but doing it with when would only work if you’re deliberately trying to sound like someone from the 18th century. Oct 16, 2023 at 9:55
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    I wouldn’t go as far as to call it completely ungrammatical, but it is definitely very, very marked and should be avoided in nearly all circumstances. (And of course the simple collocation be gone is used outside of the imperative as well, anywhere an infinitive form is required; e.g., “She finds it hard to be gone so much of the time”, or “You need to be gone by the time I get back”.) Oct 16, 2023 at 9:58
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    "Be gone!" as a simple imperative is correct, but very unusual. "Begone!" is the usual form for that meaning.
    – fectin
    Oct 16, 2023 at 12:19

"Are gone" or "will be gone" are both acceptable.

"Later, when the guests are gone," describes a conditional: if the guests are gone in the future, we can talk.

"Later, when the guests will be gone," describes a conditional: the guests will be gone in the future, we can talk then.

It's a subtle difference, and not one that matters for this purpose. Either is fine.

"When the guests be gone" is nonsense. There are some archaic modes which use that construction; do not try to use them. Even if you get the use right (unlikely), it will still look wrong to modern readers/listeners.

  • 2
    Unless it's talk like a pirate day.
    – barbecue
    Oct 16, 2023 at 12:44

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