I love finding out about Canadianisms that go beyond the obvious – eh, aboot, ketchup chips, etc. This one is huge.
Yesterday Libby informed me that for the past YEAR she has thought that I had some grammar problem because I kept saying I was done things… “I’m done work,” I’m done my sandwich,” I’m done Bossypants so now you can take it”, etc. Apparently she didn’t want to point it out lest she embarrass me, until the other day when she heard another Canadian interviewed who kept saying the same thing. (btw for everyone who has no clue what’s wrong with these quotes, apparently most people would say “I’m done with work” “I’m done with my sandwich”
Not using with is evidently the most egregious “mistake” that Canadians make. Here are some comments I’ve found replying to how wrong dropping the “with” is:
Sounds and is totally wrong grammatically. However, many communities appear to have errors in their modern day speech and are either oblivious to it or use it as some sort of badge! One that springs to mind is the gang infested hoods of parts of LA etc.
“It looks like a contraction of “I’m done with my homework” and a mix-up with “I’ve done my homework”. It is hard to tell however if this is an example of imperfectly learned English in a ghetto environment or whether it was largely artificially perpetrated by a few people trying to be humorous.
So I mean…this isn’t just a cute mispronounciation like “aboot”, this is yet another sign of the gang culture infiltrating Canada!
This blogpost is very likely the first website to write anything about the issue. All I’ve managed to find is a lot of arguing on various forums on whether it should be “I’m done dishes” or “I’m done with homework.” The forums confirm that this is Canadian and common to some parts of the East Coast – NJ, New Hampshire, Philadelphia.
A Quebecois guy confirms this on one forum:
dans certaines régions (dont le Québec et l’Ontario) on peut utiliser le verbe “be” avec cette structure (pour quelques personnes c’est seulement avec un des deux, mais bon…) même lorsqu’il y a un objet :
I’m done my homework.
I’m finished my report.
Il faut noter que cette structure n’est pas considérée comme “standard” et elle serait incompréhensible pour la plupart des Américains (sauf dans les zones américaines où la structure existe, comme Philadelphie et l’ouest de l’état de New York), mais ça s’entend souvent au Canada. Ailleurs, on dirait plutôt :
I’m done with my homework.
I’m finished with my report.
A few things of note:
- Americans are CRAZY when it comes to defending their grammatical style. I have seen every explanation of why they are right for using with and everyone else is ghetto…or an alien. A lot of the counter examples don’t even make sense. One person said “I’m done my homework only works if your name is done my homework”. So when I say “I’m hungry” I’m temporarily changing my name to hungry. Then there’s people arguing with all these participle rules that don’t make sense to me and I can’t be bothered to read them. Mainly because English has so many exceptions to everything it seems weird to cite a rule and then decide an entire country must be wrong.
- Many people said what my cousin said, which is using “with” seems way too emphatic. Like “I’m DONE WITH YOU!” or even “I’m DONE WITH THE DISHES!” meaning like… I’m never washing dishes again. STUPID DISHES! From now on I am JUST eating straight off the table!!
While I’m at it, why do some people find it SO HARD to understand how to use “eh” in context? It’s the easiest thing ever. Even Libby can explain it to you! Although she is now the master of converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius as well… so she is officially bilingual. Soon she’ll be saying “I’m done my homework.”