English Grammar

to finish

Why do you use"to be" in: "we are just about finished" and ""to have" in "you have just finished"? a new recruit (scene 10 of 10)


  • To have or not to have but to be (as the auxiliary verb), that's the question.

    That's the worrying syntactic question released by a clever Mimi.
    It's actually worrying, more to the point that the example put forward by Mimi is referring to "finished"!!

    First of all let's remember that "finished" is either the past participle of the verb "to finish" or a mere adjective.

    Finished as adjective:
    Taliban are finished (= they are doomed to ruin - untrue statement, hey!)
    "are" is here a copula linking the subject to its predicate. In the same way as the Earth is round and Mimi is clever.

    Finished as the past participle:
    Taliban are finished with suicide bombings (= they have finished bombing – untrue!)

    Gee said that the verb "be" may form a perfect tense as long as it goes with an intransitive verb.
    Take for instance: Christ is risen from death. (to rise is never transitive)
    As far as I can gather, "finish" should be looked at as intransitive in the sentence "We are just about finished".
    Those examples are all running present perfect. I'd be pleased to get one with a past perfect tense. Isn't over there a kind grammarian willing to give me an example?

    Additional example:
    As a GG-user I couldn't feel finished (adj.).
    I do my lesson in the early morning; as I am finished (p.p.) I go on thinking in English.

  • Is it possibly in informal speech, I dunno, but the verb BE may sometimes be used to form a perfect tense with the past participle of an intransitive verb.
    'We have just about finished' is more or less the same as 'We are just about finished'.
    'When mimislv posted her question this afternoon I had already gone' is similar to 'When mimislv posted..., I was already gone'.
    Both forms share a similar meaning but, as you can check it, they sound otherwise. Don't you feel "I am gone" more fluent?

    As far as I am right informed, we should NOT say "I am finished my work" (transitive verb) but we might say "I am finished" full stop.

    Take my opinion with all proper reserves and hope getting further information.

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