When someone asks whether you have completed a task e.g. shopping, dinner. What should be your answer?

I am done.


I have done.

To me, the former sentence's formation, Sub + VBe+ Past Participle, falls to passive voice. Therefore, it has a totally different meaning from I have done Sub + Predicate (verb intransitive).


According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 3rd ed., the verb do is an intransitive verb in the meaning of complete/finish.

In the sentence, same formation as I am done:

I am beautiful.

The verb am (of VBe) links the adj beautiful to the subject of the sentence I. Therefore I, the subject of the sentence, is beautiful (in other words, state of being).

Then in the sentence :

I am done.

The subject, I, is linked to the adjective done. So the subject's state of being is done, in other words dead?

  • "I have done" sounds rather archaic to me, largely because of John Donne's "When Thou hast done Thou hast not done, for I have more." But it's entirely possible that it's Donne's nationality rather than his epoch that accounts for his usage. – Andreas Blass Apr 24 '16 at 2:15

Done is used as the past participle in combination with have, obviously, but done is also used as an adjective meaning "carried out, completed, or treated in a particular way: her hunting days were done" (Webster's); as such, either statement is correct depending on the context. Usually, "I have done" would require an object (done what, precisely?) and "I am done" would signify that one was finished with, say, a task. At least in the U.S., a person would be much more likely to say "I'm done" to indicate the conclusion of an activity like homework or chores, and so on.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I have heard I am done mostly in the USA. To my hears, it would have a different meaning, but that is because my first language is Italian (see what sono finito would mean in Italian). :-) – kiamlaluno Jan 28 '11 at 13:29
  • 3
    This does seem to be a UK vs. US English thing - I am in the US and "I have done" with no object sounds very strange to me (I've specifically noticed it in some British movies, actually). – Justin Jan 28 '11 at 14:18
  • Based on Webster's defination in the sentence : I am done ; I , the subject of sentece , is being completed. It's not the task which is completed. – Mr.X Jan 28 '11 at 15:09
  • 4
    I have done without an object sounds outright incorrect to my (American) ears. You can say I have finished if you don't like "I'm done" for whatever reason (whyever not?), but not "I have done". – Marthaª Mar 3 '11 at 23:15

'Have' is strictly correct. You would properly say:

Yes, I have done.


Yes, I have finished.

However, 'I am done', 'I'm done', or 'I'm all done' is also generally accepted to mean the same thing. I believe it's more prevalent in US English.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Would I have done work on its own? I find it is missing the task. Have you done the shopping? Yes I have. Or Yes I have done the shopping. But not Yes I have done. – mplungjan Jan 28 '11 at 12:41
  • Yes, 'I have done' works, because it's not 'on its own'; it's given context by the question, just like 'Yes, I have' is. – user3444 Jan 28 '11 at 12:53
  • With "I have done", I would specify the object. "I've done it." Also, "It's done." Whoah...semantic satiation on "done"... – Chris B. Behrens Jan 28 '11 at 15:28

In UK English especially, done is a verb, not an adjective. Saying "I'm done" sits very uncomfortably with me.

| improve this answer | |
  • So do I, if we follow VBe, the subject of the sentence is BEING DONE not the task. – Mr.X Jan 28 '11 at 15:12
  • 3
    Really? You don't find "It's done!" acceptable? I don't think it's the verb/adjective difference, but the agentive use as opposed to the patient. – Colin Fine Jan 28 '11 at 15:16
  • 2
    Having said which, I (though UK) do find "I'm done" acceptable. – Colin Fine Jan 28 '11 at 15:21
  • @Colin Because of Americanisation, I bet. Saying "It is done" (as an adjective) sounds archaic to me. Like something out of a 30's film about Moses. – MSpeed Jan 31 '11 at 11:05
  • 1
    @Collin, It's done could mean the programme is completed or finish, it's different from I am done. – Mr.X Feb 3 '11 at 3:12

As far as I understand, "I have done" is perfectly alright. But if someone is asking after whether you're completed with a task it may be more direct just to reply "I have finished (it)."

| improve this answer | |

"I have finished."

"I am done" means you are a cake that is done. You're cooked. If you have finished a task or a job, you should say, "I have finished", or "I'm through".

| improve this answer | |
  • I have finished - agreed, that makes perfect sense. But I'm through? You're through what, a tunnel? I know that's a popular American expression but if you think about it, it doesn't make sense, it's an unfinished sentence. Ironically, it's a sentence which isn't finished/done/whatever! – user171842 Apr 23 '16 at 23:53

Silliness, regardless what Oxford and Cambridge argue.

"I have done x" represents a task/project finished in past tense, whereas "I am done" expresses one is finished a task/project in the present tense without further explaination (if one were dead, they could not tell you). But "I finished" means one has completed a task/project without expression, too.

"I finished" is more American/Canadian, while "I have finished" is used by the Brits.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.