Can we use finished like this--I mean, with is, are, am?

I am finished with my punishment. I am leaving.

[instead of: I have finished my punishment]

Are you finished eating?

[instead of: Have you finished eating?]



1 2
Greetings, Mr Tom,

be finished with sth is allowed with human subjects. It means that someone is no longer doing something or dealing with it or is no longer interested in it. This usage is reflected in your first sentence.

The second sentence, however, features a blend of the above construction and present perfect verb form. It should be rephrased as

Have you finished eating?


Are you finished with eating?

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff
Gleb_ChebrikoffAre you finished with eating?

Hi Gleb

Where did you get that idea? It is quite normal to say that someone is finished doing something.

The addition of the word "with" can add a nuance that would frequently be inappropriate. For example, I'd tend to use finished teaching and finished with teaching like this:

- I am finished teaching. => I taught a class today and that activity is now finished.
- I am finished with teaching. => I will never teach again.
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Hello, Amy,

one man's meat is another man's poison, we all know that maxim, and the choice of the constructions in question can illustrate this once and once again, so I tend to question some utterances that are labelled 'quite normal' (no offence meant, Amy).

I am finished teaching (even though I disapprove of such a structure, I still do not start it with an asterisk) implies that the speaker has recently been plugging away in a desperate bid to teach his/her pupils; these painful efforts are now over; therefore, she/he utters the above sentence and logically connects its proposition with his present state (of being ready to drop, of preparing to finally go home, etc). In fact, you say the same in your post. This situational environment (ie recent past + current relevance), Amy, is ideal for present tense perfect aspect. However, it is not immediately obvious to some speakers, and they (perhaps unpremediatedly) draw a false parallel with adjectives similar to busy, which allow for nominal-ing-participle clause complementation:

I am busy with my studies. = I am busy studying.

Finished is different in this respect. As a derived participial adjective, it is devoid of transitivity as a valid grammatical category, and this is crucial in specifying the pattern of its use. Perhaps many speakers would change their preferences if they took time to answer a set of simple questions, such as: 1. What word class does finished represent in this instance? 2. What kind of complementation does it allow?, etc.

You make a valid point by indicating the nuances and fine points of the with-construction. Indeed, double sense sometimes appears with parallel grammatical devices (cf She is not a teacher/She is no teacher), but it can be amended without recourse to dubious semi-grammatical utterances. Another thing, Amy, is that such blends in fact (and I would add - unfortunally) appear systematically in any language, and English is a vivid example of unnumbered manifestations of catachresis and malamorphism. I see this 'have-to-be' substitution as an instance of these phenomena, and thus encourage learners to exercise caution, if they have no wish to follow Mr Malaprop's lead.

A lot could be said about 'have finished/be finished' alternative, but discussing this within the present thread would be a digression, so this is all for now.

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff
Mr. Chebrikoff,

Are you a professor or teacher of some sort? Because you seem so confident with you each and every one of your replies and the construct of your writing is always very well put together and explained with extreme verbality. And I know for a fact musicians are usually very intelligent especially if they've been honing such a craft for an extended period, 'cause my cousins are all musicians and medical doctors. I'm like the black sheep if you know what I mean......Emotion: sad
Gleb_ChebrikoffPerhaps many speakers would change their preferences if they took time to answer a set of simple questions, such as: 1. What word class does finished represent in this instance? 2. What kind of complementation does it allow?, etc.
I seriously doubt that, Gleb! Emotion: smile

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Dear Pleasehelp,

many thanks for kind words and appreciating my posts on englishforums.com, which I try to write as respectfully and understandably as possible. To be honest with you, the violin does not symbolise my vocation, perhaps only metaphorically, but I agree with you that most of brilliant musicians are not only excellent performers, but also thoughtful and deliberate thinkers. Important: 'Black sheep' is not a phrase which could characterise you at all, Pleasehelp. It takes great passion for the truth (at least, 'linguistic' truth) and keen interest in the inner workings of the language to ask questions that are found in your posts, so please feel confident about that. 'PhDs', 'professors', 'doctoris honoris causa', etc, are mere labels - within the forums, I am a humble full member, while you are higher in status, but if you feel like asking me a question, you are always welcome to make a comment on my profile - and I will be delighted to offer any kind of help you need to the best of my ability - that's where the genuine friendship lies, and don't worry about formal indicators of friendship on the site. By the by, you can call me 'Gleb', but thanks for 'Mr', anyway.

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff
Hello, Jim,

How come? (Even shorterthan your comment! Emotion: smile)

I wish we could be more talkative when discussing serious matters...

The answer to 'would/used to' will be there in a while - I am just too absorbed in my current workload - the end of the year is frantically busy, there is no need telling you that. Perhaps the pressure of other work still deters you from returning to epithets and metaphors.

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff
Hi Gleb,

Which do you suppose happened first: actual language usage or grammar rules? Actual sentences or diagrams of those sentences?

I must say that your approach to English seems to be extraordinarily mechanical and inflexible. While I recognize that you know a great deal about English, it also seems that you don't actually have much feel for the language. English is not a dead language. And it is not the equivalent of a mathematical equation. Nor will it ever be. Not everything can be pigeon-holed as neatly as we might wish it could be.

I noticed that you used my name quite frequently in your last post. Perhaps you will be kind enough to enlighten the other learners here on the site about your reasons for doing so -- and whether or not you would recommend that they always do the same when talking to someone here on the forum.
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