"I done [past verb]" or "I done [present verb]" grammar


So I came across these two weird sentences in some Hip-hop songs and I couldn't figure out in any way that what grammar they're following and the meanings were also really confusing for me.

The first one:

I done said a lot of thing in my day

following the grammar: Subject + Done + Past Verb

The reference link: Lucky you By Eminem [The beginning of verse 2]

and the second one:

I done quit chicken heads cold turkey and started slowly roasting 'em

following the grammar: Subject + Done + Simple Verb

The reference link: Evil twin By Eminem [The beginning of verse 1]

And my questions are:

  • What were the original sentences in these two cases in terms of grammar?

  • What tenses are they indicating and what are the ways to identify them?

Devin Hudson

Posted 2019-03-10T12:06:34.710

Reputation: 387



Said and quit are not tensed verbs here but past participles. The construction done VPaPpl is a non-standard but (in US dialects) very common vernacular alternative to the perfect construction:

I have said a lot of things in my day ...
I have quit chicken heads cold turkey ...


My momma done told me —Blues in the Night
Done laid around and stayed around this old town too long —Gotta Travel On

Note that this construction is largely confined to perfective and active uses; continuative and passive uses are usually expressed with bare been rather than done been.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2019-03-10T12:06:34.710

Reputation: 176 469

Although you could've added some examples for the continuative and passive cases. – Devin Hudson – 2019-03-10T22:00:24.727

@DevinHudson did you have those in your original question? Asking the correct question is the first step. – Solar Mike – 2019-03-10T22:25:51.740