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Would "well done" also apply to a case, in which the performer of the action, the one for which he is receiving a praise, is still performing it at the moment of receiving the praise, in other words, when he is not done yet?

For example:

Dad: "Okay, now start jumping over these obstacles and keep doing it for 5 minutes"

Son: "Okay, Dad!"

Dad (1 minute later): "Well done. You are doing really well!"

or something like that.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think of "Well done!" as referring to a completed action. For actions which are currently in progress, you could use:

Good work!

or

Good job!

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Thank you, simchona!!! –  brilliant Sep 11 '11 at 20:38

Using the past-tense word done indicates the task is complete. This sits in contrast to the present-progressive form are doing that indicates the task is still ongoing.

If I were the son in this scenario, as soon as my dad said "Well done," I would have stopped jumping.

The dad could say "You've been going for on minute. Well done. You are doing really well!" This would indicate that the interim goal of going for one minute had been reached.

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Speaking entirely personally, I have to contradict the existing two answers (at time of writing) and say that in British English at least, "well done" is an idiomatic phrase, has lost a great deal of its literal meaning, to the extent that it can be used to refer to an activity that is underway, and perhaps even an activity yet to begin.

The scenario in the question seems perfectly natural to me:

Dad: "Okay, now start jumping over these obstacles and keep doing it for 5 minutes"

Son: "Okay, Dad!"

Dad (1 minute later): "Well done. You are doing really well!"

I would also not find the following exchange jarring:

Son: I'm going to do my homework before dinner

Dad: Well done.

This is clearly nonsense in terms of the literal meaning of the words, but colloquially it is commonplace in the UK.

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