Whether our work be finished, daylight is fading. We're done.

Is this wrong? Is it too American? If so, how or why, please?

Would you suggest a concise, well-written alternative to "We're done"?


At a casual glance, my question looks like a duplicate. However, I do not believe that it actually is. I do not mean it to be a duplicate, at any rate.

A question almost like mine has been asked at least twice. However, this question implies that the work had been finished, which is explicitly not what I imply here; and, perplexingly, this question asks what I have asked, but then accepts an answer which (as far as I understand) answers a different question.

So, years later, I think that we have room for another go at this.

(If I am technically mistaken, if my question actually is indeed a duplicate, then would you help me to edit it so that it is not? The point is that the answer I seek does not yet, as far as I know, exist on this site; and that it will probably never exist until the question is more precisely put, as I have tried to do here. Thanks.)

  • 1
    Perhaps we need a tag too-american?
    – Drew
    Jun 10, 2016 at 22:08
  • @Drew: Thanks; good tag. My audience includes Englishmen who find Americanisms irritating, but with whom I (an American) otherwise get along well. If I were going to irritate them, I should at least like to be aware that I were irritating them, so that I could choose to do it a-purpose!
    – thb
    Jun 10, 2016 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


You are not wrong, but most casual AmE speakers would not use the subjunctive mood (even though it is correct). I happen to like it, and I don't mind sounding affected now and then. Much more "common" would be something like:

Whether or not our work is finished, daylight is fading. We're done.
Whether our work is finished or not, daylight is fading. We're done.
Even in the original example, I think the "Whether or not" construction sounds better, technically superior vel non.

  • I like your answer. It actually answers a different question than I had meant to ask, but is most informative to me. "Sounding affected now and then?" Yes, that's about right. Am guilty as charged.
    – thb
    Jun 10, 2016 at 23:04
  • Please leave your answer. It's helpful. However, for information, I have now edited my question to sharpen it, making clearer what I was asking.
    – thb
    Jun 10, 2016 at 23:07
  • AmE uses "done" and "finished" synonymously here. In your example, "done" sounds better because you have already used finished; but "Whether or not our work is done, daylight is fading. We're finished" sounds just as good. I can't speak to other dialects. Jun 10, 2016 at 23:11
  • You write, "this question implies that the work had been finished, which is explicitly not what I imply here." So perhaps, "Whether our work be finished, daylight is fading. "Let's go grab a beer." :-) Jun 11, 2016 at 1:44

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