I'm don'e my homework

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Dec 10 15:03:51 UTC 2004

At 12:07 AM -0500 12/10/04, Mark A. Mandel wrote:
>Jim sez:
>  >>>
>For a class I took in the fall of 1977, I interviewed an engineer at one of
>the sewage treatment plants in the Washington DC metro area.  He
>complimented me on being well prepared for the interview by saying "You've
>done your homework".  I was already familiar with the phrase, and even
>recall it as being moderately common, but this is the first usage I heard
>that I can nail down.
>Jim, you're asleep. That's "You**'ve** done", not "You're done". It's the
>absolutely straitghtforwarrd perfect tense.
>-- Mark A. Mandel
>(who is asleep himself)

Yes, you're no doubt right, but my sense is that Jim, having
transformed the "be done NP" (e.g. "you're done your homework")
construction into the standard "you've done your homework"
reprocessed the question as one about the metaphorically extended
*meaning* of the latter, i.e. fully prepare oneself for some task.
So while the form is standard, there is in principle the question of
when the figurative meaning of "do one's homework" arose.
Interesting reanalysis, anyway.


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