I'm done my homework

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri Dec 10 00:36:45 UTC 2004

On Dec 9, 2004, at 3:34 PM, James A. Landau wrote:

> 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.

warning!  warning!  the idiom in question is BE DONE/FINISHED NP 'be
done/finished with NP'.  HAVE DONE/FINISHED NP (have done your
homework, have finished the dishes, etc.) is, so far as i know, not
only widespread, but standard; it's just the perfect of DO/FINISH NP.

it seems likely to me that BE DONE/FINISHED NP is an extension of BE
DONE/FINISHED VPing (I'm done washing the dishes, Are you finished
doing your homework?), with a VPing complement.  this would be on
analogy with other aspectual verbs, which occur with both VPing
complements and ordinary NP objects (I began/continued/finished
singing, I began/continued/finished my song, etc.).


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