done vs. through + gerund

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 11 18:48:20 UTC 2006

On 5/11/06, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
> But my point is that, for me and any other black person of my generation -
> born in the '30's or earlier and, perhaps, even
> into the present, "integrated" generation - "I'm through" is not merely a
> stylistic variation that alternates with "I'm done" from time to time.
> Rather, it's that "I'm through" is grammatical and "I'm done" is
> UNgrammatical and is, therefore, extremely unlikely to be used at all under
> any set of circumstances, except as something memorized from a script
> written by whites or some such thing.

This might be generational. "I'm done V-ing" shows up occasionally in
hiphop lyrics, as in "One" by  the Detroit rap group Slum Village:

One of these days I'm a show you what I'm made of
Soon as I'm done with these silly little rap scrubs
Soon as I'm done making my rap million dollar hits
Soon as I'm done cleaning my soul of this old curse
Soon as I'm one with the universe

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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