Grammar-ease: Proved vs Proven

Today is for those times when you’re not quite sure if you want to use ‘proved’ or ‘proven.’

ProvedBoth prove and proveare formed from the verb prove. Here are the usage variations:

  • Present tense: prove
  • Simple past tense: proved
  • Past participle: proved
  • Irregular past participle: proven

Correct usage examples:

  • He has proven his case.
  • He proved his case.
  • She proved he was wrong.
  • She proved she can beat the competition.
  • She has proven she can beat the competition.
  • The competition proved they weren’t quite a challenge after all.
  • That band has proven to be a crowd favorite.
  • That band proved to be a crowd favorite.
  • The attendees proved their love for the acoustic group.
  • My parents have proven they can’t be trusted to remember to lock the door.
  • My parents proved they can’t be trusted to remember to lock the door.

As you can see, either variation can be used. However, (there’s always, a ‘but’, right?) two well-used style guides – AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style, recommend avoiding “proven” as a verb, but it’s one of those cases where the line is becoming blurry and both variations are becoming mainstream.

(Using proven as an adjective preceding a noun is acceptable all around. For example, a proven theory; proven right; proven innocent; proven track record; and so on.)

If either can work and you just can’t decide, read it out loud and select the variation that sounds best  — unless there is a specific style guide to follow, then, as always, follow the client’s wishes and follow the style guide!

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

8 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: Proved vs Proven

  1. …is incorrect when we’ve never stopped speaking that way in my part of the world? I had quite the argument with my dissertation director on this one quite awhile ago.
    Just as my British Anglo-Saxon prof said there were no modern English examples of the y- prefix “an activity being done when another activity is begun”–hello?! Rural Michigan (and I’m sure rural everywhere” will still find us saying “I was just a-climbing the tree when my father drove around the corner.”

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