CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

The difference between proved and proven

Sometimes, in English, there are words that sprout not just one past participle but two. You may learn one, your friend may learn the other and, at some point, you’ll have an argument about which is correct.

However, annoyingly… both can be correct.

prove (verb)—to show the truth through evidence or argument

The detectives had to prove the man was guilty.

’I will prove to you that I’m not lying!’ he shouted.

With regards to whether proved or proven is more correct, however, the two words can be used more or less interchangeably. For instance:

’It has not yet been proved that Mr Smith is the murderer.’

’It has not yet been proven that Mr Smith is the murderer.’

Yet, of course, there are exceptions and nuances with language. The word proven is more widely used throughout American English use, whereas proved is more dominant in British English. The exception in British English is that, proven is always used as an adjective positioned immediately before a noun. For example:

The potion was a proven remedy.

As opposed to:

The potion was a proved remedy.

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