But I think I might have probably overdid it.

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
But I think I might have probably overdid it.
(From Eminem's Speech)

I'm curious as to whether this particular pattern only applies to 'overdo' for some reason or to 'do' as well ('might have did')?

Thanks.
 
  • bigheadlouis

    Member
    English-US, but Spanish & French at home
    The funny thing here is that this sentence doesn't sound right for at least two reasons:
    1. It should be "have overdone" it. - This sentence is in the present perfect tense, so we use the current conjugation of "to have" + the past participle of "overdo" which is "overdone."
    2. You don't want to use the words "might" and "probably" together. "Might" implies a possibility, and "probably" (obviously) a probability, which means you're expressing doubt and certainty at the same time. You could say "might possibly."

    But, yes, this is how you would conjugate verbs ending in "do." You would say "done," "overdone," "outdone," "redone," etc.
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    The funny thing here is that this sentence doesn't sound right [...]

    1. It should be "have overdone" it.
    But it surely sounds right to Eminem and, I'm sure, loads of other people. ;) So, do those to whom it sounds right also say 'might have did'?

    Thanks.
     

    bigheadlouis

    Member
    English-US, but Spanish & French at home
    I'm going to quote your signature and say "Language is a poor substitute for telepathy." :) I don't know why he's conjugating the verb like this.

    Maybe he doesn't know you should use the present perfect tense here (and so he would also say 'might have did' as he knows that verbs that end in 'do' all get conjugated the same). Or, maybe he would've said 'might have done,' since it's a simpler/more common word, but he doesn't know about the conjugation rule, so he said 'overdid.'

    My instinct tells me it's probably the first, and that other people would follow this convention, though.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    But it surely sounds right to Eminem and, I'm sure, loads of other people. ;) So, do those to whom it sounds right also say 'might have did'?

    Thanks.
    Some native speakers do not speak "standard" English all the time, as I'm sure you have noticed. It is not uncommon for a simple past form to be used where a past participle is "standard". They are often people who have "picked up" their native language without being told what the grammar rules are, perhaps from hearing a non-standard form from their environment, or extending a "rule" to a new construction. A learner will typically learn English by studying the grammar etc. So it often comes as a surprise to learners (who are familiar with all the "rules") to hear a native "break" a rule. Another opportunity for me to trot out my favourite example, not uncommon in some dialects/regions or where "education" status is lower - overheard on a bus in rural England (many years ago) from a "normal" conversation between two teenagers about a party the night before: "I wouldn't 'ave went even if I had've been asked". The have went instead of have gone is parallel to the OP have overdid instead of have overdone.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Some native speakers do not speak "standard" English all the time, as I'm sure you have noticed. It is not uncommon for a simple past form to be used where a past participle is "standard". They are often people who have "picked up" their native language without being told what the grammar rules are, perhaps from hearing a non-standard form from their environment, or extending a "rule" to a new construction. A learner will typically learn English by studying the grammar etc. So it often comes as a surprise to learners (who are familiar with all the "rules") to hear a native "break" a rule. Another opportunity for me to trot out my favourite example, not uncommon in some dialects/regions or where "education" status is lower - overheard on a bus in rural England (many years ago) from a "normal" conversation between two teenagers about a party the night before: "I wouldn't 'ave went even if I had've been asked". The have went instead of have gone is parallel to the OP have overdid instead of have overdone.
    Yes, excellent points and example.

    Native English speakers make two categories of grammar "error" in speech.

    One is simply misspeaking, losing the construction of the sentence or verb form because they are thinking as they speak.

    The other is using regional dialect variations, which can be particularly interesting when they involve verb forms. If you are interested in linguistics, you don't even see these as "errors" but rather as consistent functions of a dialect. Of course you need to know and perhaps document a dialect to know for sure what counts as a communally accepted usage.

    Eminem is an interesting case. He is white, grew up in poverty in Detroit, started his music career in a black music scene, and created his own original rap style that channeled personas of various poor or underclass white men. Like many contemporary black musicians, his own public persona requires him to still show allegiance to the speech patterns and fashion choices of the voices in his music. I would say Eminem has been quite successful at this and continues to seem like an emotionally authentic performer.

    I have however no idea if this particular nonstandard verb form is characteristic of Detroit black dialect, Detroit poor white dialect, or if Eminem himself would look at the transcript and think he mis spoke.
     

    bigheadlouis

    Member
    English-US, but Spanish & French at home
    You guys have explained this beautifully.
    from a "normal" conversation between two teenagers about a party the night before: "I wouldn't 'ave went even if I had've been asked". The have went instead of have gone is parallel to the OP have overdid instead of have overdone.
    How funny! I went to a respectable high school, but this was something I heard often. In many places in the US, students aren't formally taught grammar so, as you guys said, they don't know they're misspeaking. I would bet most people would say "I've swam," not knowing they should say "swum" because it's not something you hear often.
    The other is using regional dialect variations, which can be particularly interesting when they involve verb forms. If you are interested in linguistics, you don't even see these as "errors" but rather as consistent functions of a dialect. Of course you need to know and perhaps document a dialect to know for sure what counts as a communally accepted usage.
    Another great point. You can spot a native New Yorker if you hear them say "on line" when meaning "in line/a queue." I now know it's "incorrect," and I'll say "in line" in other parts of the country to avoid judgment, but "on line" just sounds right to me. :p
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    But I think I might have probably overdid it.
    (From Eminem's Speech)

    I'm curious as to whether this particular pattern only applies to 'overdo' for some reason or to 'do' as well ('might have did')?

    Thanks.
    Thinking about this more, though.

    I might have overdone it.

    I probably overdid it.

    Both are correct. So this is a good example of a sentence where the speaker is modifying his thoughts on the fly, and ends up with a contradictory qualification: might have probably. That's the kind of thing we do say when we are somewhat conflicted on a subject.

    Then the natural thing becomes allowing the "probably" to determine the construction of "do" because "probably" is what the speaker really means. But technically the "might have" should determine the construction of "do."

    My guess is that for the speaker, "probably" over rode "might have" as an expression of how he felt and hence he ended up agreeing the verb with "probably."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    But I think I might have probably overdid it.
    This is redundant, because "might have" and "probably" mean the same thing. Speakers often say redundant things, when it is not a planned sentence. They also make many mistakes, since they can't edit the words already spoken.

    I'm curious as to whether this particular pattern only applies to 'overdo' for some reason or to 'do' as well ('might have did')?
    I'm guessing, but I think this is a mix between "I might have overdone it" and "I probably overdid it". That is how an AE speaker would say those 2 things. The speaker got confused, or changed his statement while speaking it.

    Does confusion happen with "do" also? I think so. Was this whole sentence a 'pattern'? No, I don't think so.
     
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