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Proved vs. Proven

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Have you proved your point, or proven it? Both words are both forms of the verb prove, which means “to establish truth through evidence or argument.” Both words are past participles, which basically means they completed actions that took place in the past. Generally speaking, proved and proven are interchangeable. You can usually choose between the two words based upon which one sounds better in the rhythm of a sentence.

The History of Proved vs. Proven

The debate between Team Proved and Team Proven has been going on for centuries. Proved is the older form of the word. It was originally the past participle of preve, a Middle English variation of prove that isn’t really used today.

Geoffrey Chaucer used proven in his works from the 1300s, but it wasn’t that quickly accepted in the literary world. Proven was mostly used in legal contexts for a long time. In the 1800s, British poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson used it frequently in his work. So we can assume it had caught on by then.

Today, both proved and proven are now considered correct. Still, two major style guides, The Chicago Manual of Style and the The Associated Press Stylebook, aren’t that into using proven as a past participle.

Usage

Proven is most commonly used as an adjective before the noun it modifies. For example: “The new team owner has a proven track record of success in the business world.” Here, proven describes (or modifies) track record. Another example would be “Honey is a proven remedy for a sore throat.” In this case, proven describes the type of remedy honey is.

Proved is also the past tense of prove. The past participle is always used with a helping verb (like has, have, or had), as in “I had proved my point.” In contrast, “I proved you wrong,” is an example of the word being used in the past tense.

As a past participle, proven is the accepted form in Scotland and the preferred form throughout North America. Proved tends to be the word of choice in England, although even the British use proven on occasion. Some familiar phrases, like “innocent until proven guilty,” are readily accepted as correct by both American and British style guides.

Some grammar experts will insist that proven should only ever be an adjective. However, its use as a past participle of prove is widely accepted by dictionaries and style guides. At the end of the day, proved and proven are pretty much interchangeable. You can basically go with whichever sounds best with the rhythm and flow of the sentence.

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