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How does it work the use of the past participle done instead of the past tense did? Where is this form used? Only in southern U.S.? How often?

  • This has nothing whatsoever to do with slang. – tchrist Aug 19 '15 at 10:22
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    Actually, it does. At least if "slang" includes overcontracting; I done it means I've done it and is a predictable result of fast speech rules on /ˌay'vdənət/. Initial /vd/ clusters simplify to /d/ quite normally. – John Lawler Aug 19 '15 at 12:41
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I'm from the U.S. In the South, 'done' can be used instead of 'did', just like 'seen' is sometimes used instead of 'saw'. Use of the past participle form in place of the past simple form is pretty common in the South. It is also common to use 'done' in place of 'had'. For example, we sometimes say: "I done told you that" instead of "I had told you that". It is grammatically incorrect in standard English but it is part of most Southern dialects. So I would not call that slang, but rather a dialect feature. Hope this helps.

  • All entries were helpful. Thanks a lot! I have clearer picture now of this particular use of this verb. – Goggle Gobbled Tongue Aug 20 '15 at 0:50
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Many dialects of English, throughout the English speaking world, have different forms from the standard for the parts of verbs. "I done it" is not part of any standard English as far as I am aware (whether British, American, South African, Australian, or any other). But it is widely used in parts of England and parts of the US: I don't know about the other parts of the Anglosphere.

I would not call it slang: I would call it a part of many non-standard varieties of English.

  • I'd call it slang in some situations. As would this senior member (Dimcl) of Word Reference.com: ' "The boy done good" is old-fashioned slang ... it means that he did something good.' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '15 at 11:19
  • ... Beal, in An Introduction to Regional Englishes ... labels this usage in the UK 'highly stigmatised' though he concedes it is 'widespread'. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 19 '15 at 11:32
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    The boy done good is a catch-phrase, and as such may get used by people who would never otherwise use its grammar. – Colin Fine Aug 20 '15 at 0:41

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