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, 2015 at 10:22
  • 1
    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. Aug 19, 2015 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


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. Aug 20, 2015 at 0:50

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.' Aug 19, 2015 at 11:19
  • ... Beal, in An Introduction to Regional Englishes ... labels this usage in the UK 'highly stigmatised' though he concedes it is 'widespread'. Aug 19, 2015 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, 2015 at 0:41

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