Is it correct to say:

I thought you were already gone

I've heard this phrase but I think that it's not correct to use "were gone" here. How could I say the same thing in a correct way?

  • What about "were gone" makes you believe that it is incorrect? I see no issue with tense, s-v agreement, etc.
    – vpn
    Jul 9, 2016 at 21:28
  • Because i thought the past participle has to be with have/has
    – Paolo Maleci
    Jul 9, 2016 at 21:44
  • 6
    @EdwinAshworth- "I thought you had already gone", to me, emphasizes the act of leaving, while "I thought you were already gone" emphasizes the state of not being present. So I would say, "I thought you had already gone" when asked, "How come you didn't ask me to go with you." But "I thought you were already gone" when asked, "Why didn't you make a sandwich for me too?"
    – Jim
    Jul 9, 2016 at 23:38
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth You mean be-participle, not be-infinitive. I don't think he is gone is archaizing the way he is come and he is become both are. I might even go so far as to say that the choice of is versus has to match up with gone might convey a nuanced distinction.
    – tchrist
    Jul 12, 2016 at 13:05
  • @tchrist Apologies. 'The be-perfect still persists, to a very minor degree. It is usually reserved for literary usage (I am come at the turning of the tide; he is departed; 'I thought you had already gone' is standard) but otherwise usually sounds archaic except in one or two set phrases like 'Are you finished?' (which some will argue is copula + adjective anyway).' // The majority of early examples of "he is gone" on Google (ignoring questions like this) are for song or poetic usages, or referencing the deceased. Jul 13, 2016 at 9:23

3 Answers 3


Yes, it is correct.

I thought you were already gone.

means exactly what it says. No correction necessary.

As similar way to express this could be:

I didn't know you were still here.

I thought you left.


It is linked to a common saying, "I thought you were leaving" where the speaker is present in the other's preparation to leave.

You are correct in saying that the past participle should contain have/had, but due to common usage, instead of "were leaving" or "had left (already)" or "had gone (already)/ had already gone" people also say mix them together to say, "were already gone".

The situation for this phrase on the other hand is the speaker may have thought the other had left already, but may not have been present when they were preparing to leave.

To be grammatically correct say, "I thought you'd already gone", to write how people talk you can say, "I thought you were already gone".


First, yes "I thought you were already gone" is correct.

This is subjunctive, where you talk about things that aren't true. For instance

Oh, you startled me! I thought you were a robber!

I want to fry some chicken. Where would I be if I were a frying pan?

  • "Where would I be if I were a frying pan" (?) is grammatical, but in the context you described, it doesn't make much sense. "What would I do without a frying pan?" or even "What would life be like if I were a frying pan?" makes greater sense.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 20, 2016 at 8:53
  • @Mari-LouA I guess you've never lost anything, or wondered where your spouse put things. Dec 20, 2016 at 16:34
  • Oh, wow, now it makes sense, but you had to explain it to me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 20, 2016 at 16:36

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