I am done my work VS I am done with my work. [regional variation]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by phlynhi, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Which of the following is correct to say? "I am done my work." or "I am done with my work."

    My daughter was telling the babysitter that she had completed her homework and said "I am done my work." The babysitter corrected her by suggesting that the proper sentence is "I am done with my work."

    Thanks very much.
  2. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    English (Ireland)
    I am done with my work is correct (in American English, not used as much in British English)

    It's not correct without with.
  3. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Thank you very much for the quick response, Tegs. Do you know where I can look up this rule?

    Thanks again.
  4. envie de voyager Senior Member

    Niagara Falls, Canada
    Saying that you are "done with something (or someone)" gives the impression that you are frustrated with something (or someone) and have completely lost interest in that thing (or person).
  5. Calybos Member

    English - U.S.
    On the other hand, you can say "I have done my work." But that's a slightly different concept, indicating that you simply completed a task. "I am done with (X)" indicates that the completion is finalized and will not be resumed.
  6. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    To my ear, "done with" to imply that one is frustrated rather than "finished" is heavily dependent upon the context and emphasis, and is equally valid in either sense.

    For example:
    A doctor may state "I am done with this patient," and simply mean that his task is complete.
    The same doctor may state in exasperation " I am DONE with this patient!" In this case the statement conveys perfectly that the doctor is frustrated, and while he most likely did not complete the task intended, he no longer has interest in proceeding.
    Clarification of meaning can be heard clearly when saying "I am SO done with this."

  7. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Agreed. The focus of my query is to determine whether the sentence is grammatically correct without "with."
    To me (born and raised in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US,) "I am done my work" sounds correct, but deconstruction of the sentence implies that it should be "I am done with my work." or "I have done my work."
  8. envie de voyager Senior Member

    Niagara Falls, Canada
    Here is a posting from a thread entitled "done the dishes". It explains my complete inability to understand the issue.

  9. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Winner envie!
    My family (both of my parents and several generations prior) have a long history in the upstate NY and Niagara Falls Canada region. It's these poor Mid-Atlantic Americans that can't understand that "I'm done my work" means "I am no longer engaged in the task of my work, as all of it has been completed, presumably by me." :)

    Thanks envie!
  10. b1947420 Senior Member

    If your daughter had said:-
    "I have done my work" then I would not understand anyone wanting to correct her. The use of "am" is what I don't like. It sounds and looks wrong to me.

    "I am done with my work" This form of words would give me the hint of frustration but I suppose that her body language would convey the meaning one way or the other.
  11. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    I am done my work sounds strange, I am done with my work is definitely preferable.

    I'm finished my homework is perfectly correct Hiberno-English though - I am astonished to read that in AE, such a construction is unacceptable.
  12. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    It sounds bizarre to my ear. It just doesn't parse. I don't see how "I am done" or "I am finished" may take a direct object.

    Would you ever utter such a phrase in a formal setting? And do you use any other past participles in the same way, like "I am eaten dinner" (I doubt you say that exact phrase, I'm just giving an example of the sort of construction I mean).
  13. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    I'm done the laundry.
    I'm done the bills.
    I'm done my dinner.
    I'm finished the laundry.
    I'm finished the bills.
    I'm finished my dinner.

    The missing word (to your ears,) could be "doing" or "with," I suspect.

    I believe the earlier post by envie de voyager (#7683607) that linked to an older post by taghgka gets to the root of the issue. Not correct, but a regional variation that sounds quite unnatural to others. For example, in this area (Mid-Atlantic US,) to say that something "went up" means that it is broken. I have, then, the distinct opportunity to pronounce "I'm finished the laundry, and just in time, the dryer just went up!"

    I love this language!
  14. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    It would probably qualify as colloquial Hiberno-English but I personally would have no problem in uttering it in a formal setting were it required.

    I'll need to reflect on that. I am eaten dinner certainly not but there probably are others. If I can think of any, I will post them.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  15. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  16. Tegs

    Tegs Mód ar líne

    English (Ireland)
    This is a great sentence! I'm finished the laundry sounds perfectly ok to me, but the dryer just went up sounds completely mad! Went up where - to Mars? :D

    I wish we could use that phrase over here though - I love it!
  17. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    I also found the "I'm done the dishes" really 'wrong' but it's true that "I'm finished my dinner" is completely acceptable to me. I've never even thought abotu it before - is it not said in the UK?

    By the way, what is meant by mid-Atlantic (c.f. phlynhi's post and location)? For me the term refers either to some place west of the Azores or an accent which is an unholy blend of English and American and used exclusively by bad DJs.
  18. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Well, the unholy blend of English and American is very often correct, and if Baltimore House style music is any indication, perhaps the DJ reference is true also (see: "The Percolator," pronounced in the Mid-Atlantic as <per-CUE-lay-ter>, as the seminal example.)

    After recovering from pickarooney's comment that straight laid me out (local colloquialism for laughing hysterically,) I must advise that in the current context, Mid-Atlantic refers generally to the states of the eastern seaboard of the US, south of New York and north of North Carolina.

    To the initial point, it does seem that "finished" rather than "done" seems to be much more satisfactory to a lot of ears, but that doesn't address the structural issue of the sentence. curiouser and curiouser....

    Thanks so much, pickarooney!
  19. gtw1000 New Member

    So I guess I am the babysitter in question here. I found it interesting that both the daughter and the parents found "I'm done my work" to sound phonetically correct because we have recently moved north of the Mason Dixon and this simply sounded incorrect to both my wife and me. I thought that it was a regional difference but it still doesn't make it gramatically correct so we corrected the daughter (in a very nice way might I add). Can anyone provide a sentence structure to either support or refute this? I feel that there needs to be a qualifier in the sentence "I have done my work" or "I am done with my work". I am quite certain of her meaning as "I have completed my homework".
  20. Aidanr444 Senior Member

    Hampshire, United Kingdom
    English - UK (Scotland)
    I agree that "I'm done the dishes" sounds 'wrong', but "I'm finished my homework" etc is common in Scotland too. (Or more likely, "I'm no finished my homework yet!")

    I get the impression that "done" seems more widely used in AE to mean specifically "finished". I would rarely use it in this sense myself (except in quoting the Shakespeare, "if it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly" - it's a bit of a pun, that one).
    I would indeed use the word done to describe things which are finished, but the two words aren't interchangeable for me, there is a difference in emphasis when using the word finished. Finished indicates arrival at a point of completion whereas done merely implies carried out, in a general sense. I am guessing that AE speakers incorporate a sense of completion in the word done which speakers like me simply don't experience.
    Given that Shakespeare saw the pun, I guess (and by guess I don't mean I think so, I just mean wildly stabbing at possibilities) that he felt the implication of completion in the word done more like the AE speakers do.

    To my ears done is unfamiliar in this construction... but when you break it down, they are clearly the same or a very similar usage.
    My internal language experience when using the construction is of two grammatical parts run together:
    a) "I'm finished"
    describing my state of completion, intransitive, no object. This is acceptable 'correct' English, just like "I'm hungry".

    b) "I'm finished my homework"
    takes utterance a) and appends the finished activity

    The end result is describing my state, not recounting my actions

    The more grammatically acceptable, "I've finished my homework" recounts actions rather than describing my state.

    As a youthful learner, parents and teachers who were sticklers for grammatical accuracy would almost certainly have corrected me for using this construction. Conversely, another thought is that "I've finished my homework" may sound prissy or stilted when there's a colloquial or dialect alternative available.
    Possibly the closeness of the sounds of "I'm done"/"I've done" helps this flip to go unnoticed or uncommented and grow in popularity, no matter which dialect.

    Apologies if this is a tedious ramble. I'm going to learn brevity one day. We have some good moderators who can fling stuff away if it's really bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2009
  21. envie de voyager Senior Member

    Niagara Falls, Canada
  22. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    Having just moved from the southeastern US (also known as "The South" in the US, a renowned bastion of grammatical and phonetic artistry, to be sure,) gtw1000 has become a great friend and trustworthy and dependable babysitter for me. I have often had the opportunity to gladly return the favor, and his offspring are indeed well-spoken, belying their unfortunate geographic origin.
    I agree that "done" as used by my daughter requires the preposition 'with' to modify 'done.'

    << --- >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2009
  23. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
    While I can't quote your entire post in the interest of brevity, Adianr444, your take on this is exceptionally close to my own. Particularly
    But in defense of this regional variation, I must applaud your discerning the difference in actual meanings, particularly since AE is not (I don't gather) your native tongue. To wit:
    This, I think, gets to the core of the issue. When I say/hear "I'm done my work," the statement is not meant/interpreted as an incorrectly structured "recounting of my actions," but is a statement announcing my new state of being. A state of "doing my work," has changed to a state of "done (as a synonym for "finished," as you and Shakespeare recognized) my work." Exceptional, and by no means tedious!! Thank you for the input.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
  24. phlynhi New Member

    US Mid-Atlantic region
    English - American
  25. rjmoore221 Member

    American English
    I'm from the Eastern Shore of Maryland (considered part of the Mid-Atlantic region), and these "I'm finished/done X" forms are perfectly natural to me. I find that I say them without realizing, and my friends who have lived on the Eastern Shore but aren't from there/whose families are not originally from there find it disgustingly ungrammatical (like "I'm not finished my coffee yet" will receive a grimace from my breakfast partner when they ask if I'm ready to go). I distinctly remember telling my parents when I was done my homework (see? past tense applies here too), asking "I'm done my homework, so can I go hang out with my friends now?" My brother finds these grammatical, too.

    Maybe an influence from up north? It's interesting to find out here that there are Canadian and Scottish uses as well. Or maybe it's a grammatical re-analysis with influence from other immigrant languages common to these areas? Just throwing it out there. How is there such a commonality of use but also such a diaspora?

    I was speaking with another Linguistics friend who is from outside Philadelphia and also uses these forms - we came across this language analysis/atlas project:

    Done my homework | Yale Grammatical Diversity Project

    It also includes mentioning of the verb 'started' within this schema, but I personally find it weird. Not to say that it doesn't work for others, though.

    Thanks phlynhi, envie, and Aidanr444!

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