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Is this a correct phrase?

Joe, I've been finishing with the task.

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Possibly. But you might mean any of:

Joe, I've finished the task.

or

Joe, I've finished with the task.

or

Joe, I've been working on the task.

or

Joe, I've been finishing the task.

or

Joe, I'm still finishing the task.

Which all have slightly different meanings.

Joe, I've been finishing with the task

implies (to me at least) you have been doing what is needed to discontinue your work on the task, leaving it in a state where someone else may have to take over the work in order to complete the task, but where you have not yet done enough for your contribution to cease. This is a moderately complex thought and might not be exactly what you intend.


Of course, this is the sort of analysis which enables lawyers to send their children to expensive schools and drive Ferraris. However if I encountered your sentence in a novel I would probably not give it a second glance as these nuances would be unimportant or clear from context.

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The tense construction, I've been finishing, indicates that the act of finishing has continued for some time. It sounds a bit awkward because the verb finish doesn't seem to have a sense of extended continuity. In other words, saying that the act of finishing is going on for quite a some time sounds unusual.

One can say, I've been working or I've been reading and that would look correct because the verbs work and read can be 'perefectively progressive' like many other verbs and unlike the verb finish.

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