transitive "be done" (again?)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Aug 21 05:14:10 UTC 2012

Is this "be done NP"(with NP such as "[one's] homework/chores/meal")
only recently popular even in Canada or Baltimore? I don't recall
hearing it in 'real life' myself.

Something analogous, though, I think I have heard: "be done work" (=
"finish work [for the day, etc.]").

Quick G-books search shows a number of instances of "be done work", from
as early as 1870 (Mark Twain, "If he wants to spin his top when he is
done work, ...."). I see "he is done his work" once from 1913.

Otherwise, at my glance, "be done NP" seems pretty much absent before
ca. 1990 (I see an exception with "are you done your dinner?" from
'1882' but it is apparently in the mouth of a fictional non-Briton).

Maybe "be done work" was generalized. But then whence "be done work" itself?

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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