What kind of difference in nuance do you native speakers of English perceive between "Have you finished?" and "Are you finished"?
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'Have is more polite, are implies some impatience to me.
Then, what do you think makes such difference?
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Hello Taka

1. 'Have you finished?' could be said in any situation:

a) Mother to child eating soup: 'have you finished?'
b) Teacher to student during test: 'have you finished?'
c) Male to female who has been complaining bitterly about the ring of shaving
foam and stubble round the bathroom sink: 'have you finished?'

2. 'Are you finished?', as Nona says, would mostly be said in situations like 1c,
and implies a certain degree of impatience (or mock-impatience):

a) Female to male who has been explaining the workings of the internal
combustion engine for the last half-hour: 'are you finished?'

b) Male to female who has been shouting abuse and at last collapses
sobbing into an armchair with her hands over her face: 'are you

(Reverse 'male' and 'female' for less stereotypical scenarios in the last 3

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why 'are you finished?' is so derogatory. We say
'is it finished?' of films, plays, tv programmes; perhaps the speaker is
implicitly likening the other person to a mechanical recording.

Here's another two cents.

I sense that "Are you finished?" is more everyday English.
"Have you finished?" is a little 'higher class'.

I can imagine "Have you finished?" being said in quite a nasty way. For me it would not be necessary to switch to "Are you finished?" to produce the less polite nuance. Tone of voice could easily convey that in either case.

Just my two cents. Emotion: smile
Hmm. Now you mention it, CJ, trying out the two phrases
in different accents does give different results.

I think my last post needs a question mark above it, pending
more field research...

Try out our live chat room.
I agree that tone of voice makes a difference and either could be polite or impatient in certain circumstances.

I think another difference depends on the actual or implied end of the sentence.

A polite waiter offering to clear plates would say
'Have you finished with these?'not 'Are you finished with these?'.

Mother to eating child.
Have you finished? (your dinner darling) - polite

Are you finished? (messing around, I'm getting cross now) - impolite (but excusable for mums!).
Thank you, people, but what I'm interested in is not which usage for which situation, but why such difference in nuance between "are finished" and "have finished". Any idea?
I think 'Why?' is always the most difficult question, for anyone in general and often for native speakers of a language in particular.

I wonder if some of the nuancing arises from the grammar. Let me outline how my thoughts are going.

The present perfect 'Have you finished' seems politely to offer me more time, ie the whole past, in which I may have finished. And the active voice suggests that I am in control of the situation.

The present tense in 'Are you finished' suggests the speaker does not care about any past problems I may have had, and is just focussing on my present status. And the passive suggests I am not in control of the situation.

These are just some quick thoughts, I don't want to overstate them or stand by them to the death.

What do you think?

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