Which Is Right: Proved or Proven?

Have you ever proven someone wrong, or have you proved someone wrong?

A reader wonders which is right, and as is often the case with English, there are differing opinions.

My primary and preferred resource, The Associated Press Stylebook, suggests using proven only as an adjective, which describes or tells more about a noun.

Some claim that chicken soup is a proven remedy for a cold.
She has a proven record of success.
The band has a proven level of popularity.

Proved, on the other hand, is appropriately used as an adverb, providing extra meaning to a verb.

Have you proved that chicken soup cures a cold?
She proved that she could succeed.
The band proved it could draw a huge crowd.

Here are other examples of how to use forms of the verb to prove:

I prove my patience every day.
I am proving my patience right now.
I will prove my patience tomorrow.
I proved my patience yesterday.
I have proved my patience often.

When it comes to proved versus proven, what is considered correct usage is open to discussion. Some sources allow proven as an adverb when used with what is called the past particle verb tense:

He has proven his case.
She has proven that she is an attentive listener.

But both the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, two popular references for writers, recommend avoiding using proven as a verb:

The band has proven proved to be a favorite among teens.
Those attending the concert have proven proved their passion for the musicians.
She has proven proved that she is a devoted fan.

Regardless of whether you choose to use proved or proven, be consistent so you don’t confuse your readers.

To clarify other word usage, either try the Looking for search function on this page or send me an email: contact@ruthlesseditor.com

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)