Proved vs. Proven
Several readers have asked for clarification on the words proved and proven.
Both are forms of the verb prove: “to demonstrate or establish as true.”
As a regular transitive verb, prove has the following principal parts:
proved (simple past)
have proved (past participle)
proving (present participle)
The form proven is an irregular past participle form. One can say either, He has proved his theory, or He has proven his theory.
According the OED, proven is “the usual form [of the past participle] in Scottish English and also the preferred form in current North American English.”
That’s not to say that it doesn’t appear in British publications:
James Milner says that Manchester City have proven that they can win ugly –The Daily Mail
Here is a sampling from the Web. It’s not always possible to discern the country of origin:
We’ve proved that we can’t be trusted with setting passwords.
[Pope] Francis has proven to be a crowd favorite for many young people.
Women have proved that they can win the race.
Barry Beach has proven himself an asset to community, deserving of clemency
Brandon High has proven to be the community’s leadership institute
Quality early education has proven economic benefit for community
The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook advise against the use of proven as a past participle, but Paul Brians (Common Errors in English Usage) opines that, “For most purposes either form is a fine past participle of prove…”
Proven as an adjective preceding a noun is standard in both British and American usage:
Five Proven Facts that Make Yoga Awesome
This Politician is a Proven Liar
Capaldi [the new Dr. Who] is a fine actor, who has a proven track record in comedy and drama…
To sum up:
Proved is the past tense of the verb prove. Both proved and proven are are acceptable as past participle forms.
British and some American style guides recommend proved as the only past participle, admitting of established set phrases like “innocent until proven guilty.”
Proven as an adjective preceding a noun is standard usage in both British and American usage.
Pronunciation note: Americans pronounce the adjective proven with the same “oo” vowel as prove: [PROOV-n]. British speakers pronounce proven with a long o: [PRO-vn]
Browse all articles on the Misused Words category or check the recommended content for you below:
Improve your English in 5 minutes a day! Subscribe to our Writing Tips and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!