Can we say [he done] this because he was threatened by the police officer?



He done this because he was threatened by the police officer.

I have seen somewhere in a text that an Asian author wrote his statement like above so, I am confused shall we use done like this or we are not recommended use such weird English structure?
And I thank you in the case that clearly explain for me the use of done on such a sentences.

High then Hide

Posted 2014-12-27T05:28:32.827

Reputation: 414

Uncheck my answer so I can delete it. – None – 2014-12-27T18:05:47.663

@CarSmack - yours is a very interesting answer, I upvoted it, and it dovetails nicely with my answer. I had recalled that done might be used in speech but had no exact knowledge on that, only some recollections from books I've read. – CowperKettle – 2014-12-28T05:11:07.520

@CarSmack, and I hope to read more such superb answers of yours in the future. – CowperKettle – 2014-12-28T19:53:36.150



He done this because he was threatened by the police officer.

Done is used as the past simple of the verb do. I do not know why an Asian writer would use this construction. Do you have a link to the book, or can you remember the book's name?

Done is the past simple of do in the dialect of English spoken throughout the southern United States. Not all people in this area always use done in this way. Because people can use both dialect English and standard English. For example, I am from the American South, and I can speak this dialect when I want to sound like I am from the American South.

However, some people only speak dialect English. An unfortunate occurence is that such people are seen as speaking an "inferior" or, as you put it, a "weird" form of English, because of the way their dialect differs from standard English. And such people can be seen as "ignorant," meaning not only uneducated but stupid.

Famous authors of the South who wrote using a Southern dialect include

Mark Twain
Frederick Douglass
William Faulkner
Katherine Anne Porter
Margaret Mitchell
Harper Lee
James Dickey
Walker Percy
James Lee Burke

My suggestion for English learners is to first learn standard English. Dialects contain not only grammatical constructions that differ from 'standard English' but also employ different words for things. And of course pronunciation is a huge identifying factor.

Wikipedia has an article about this dialect at this link.

The dialects of American English commonly known collectively in the United States as Southern are spoken throughout the Southern United States, from the southern extremities of Ohio, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as most of West Virginia and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast, and from the Atlantic coast to most of Texas and Oklahoma, and the far eastern section of New Mexico. The Southern dialects make up the largest accent group in the United States.

In this dialect done can be used in the following ways:

1) as the past simple of do -- this is how the word done is used in your sentence.

I done what you told me.

2) as an auxillary verb before a main verb to mean the past tense:

I done told you to stay away from Boo Radley.

I done asked (or axed) the man what time breakfast was.

These two uses can naturally be combined:

I done done it.


Posted 2014-12-27T05:28:32.827


2Past full-tense done is not restricted to the South; it is common throughout the US, in AAVE and in many British dialects, too. Douglass did not use dialect in his writing; you could substitute Hurston (though of course her dialect is southern AAVE). And much as I love Twain, I cannot claim him as a fellow-Southerner. You could substitute Welty or Warren or McCullers. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-27T13:25:05.937

+1, I thought your previous edition of this answer post to be quite helpful. :) – F.E. – 2014-12-27T18:11:22.340

@F.E. Did you see the carping snailboat left here last night? Then he said he had no interest in writing an answer. – None – 2014-12-27T18:24:25.090

@snailboat I am deleting my profile. This atmosphere is unpleasant. I write an answer. An expert (you) criticizes it, then tells me he has no interest in writing an answer. – None – 2014-12-27T18:26:56.567

@StoneyB then I check the site this am, and another expert criticizes my answer yet does not write his or her own, or use the Edit function to correct the mistakes in my answer. – None – 2014-12-27T18:28:42.703

And frankly my dear, I don't give a dam about your opinion about Mark Twain. – None – 2014-12-27T18:32:59.060

@CarSmack I truly would be disappointed if you left ELL. I've found your posts and comments to be helpful and valuable, especially since you're a native speaker and are working in English. Sometimes it's better to merely step away for a few days (and maybe consider creating an ELL meta post on this topic, on the tricky problem of offering criticism -- or extra info -- without being seen as being too heavy handed.) :) – F.E. – 2014-12-27T18:33:03.000

@F.E. I already asked to delete my profile. So that's probably irreversible. I have stepped away. But the double bashing of last night and this morning by this duo of experts, and the way they did it, was specially unpleasant. – None – 2014-12-27T18:44:23.873

@CarSmack Maybe not irreversible. Just send another request. -- I've found that stepping away from a site or forum (due to various reasons) to be quite helpful in getting my real work done. :) -- Also, be aware that StoneyB probably wasn't aware of the previous comments that had been made which were then deleted, and so, wasn't aware of the snowball effect that his comments could end up doing. – F.E. – 2014-12-27T18:49:48.323

I tried asking a question on meta one or two days ago, and I couldn't get it to post. – None – 2014-12-27T18:50:01.850

@CarSmack Maybe J.R. can help with that issue of creating a thread on Meta-ELL? – F.E. – 2014-12-27T18:51:48.187

I didn't say that "Past full-tense done [was] restricted to the South" – None – 2014-12-27T19:07:12.570

2I apologize for not responding earlier to your response -- I've been up and down all day and somehow never saw it. I do not apologize for not editing your post (I never edit Answers, because I don't like people messing with my punctuation and I assume other writers don't either) or for not posting an Answer of my own, since yours left me nothing to add but some petty technical observations. I DO very heartily regret that my tone was so abrupt that it led you to feel bashed - that was not my intention at all. For the record: I very much admire your work here and feel your ... – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-28T04:59:56.993

2... arrival is among the four or five happiest events on the site in the last six months. You write not only with precision and grace but with a keen understanding of what will be immediately intelligible and of enduring value to our questioners. I hope you won't leave; but if you do, you have my thanks. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-28T05:05:42.743


Done is the past participle form of the verb to do. It needs another verb to help it, an auxiliary verb:

He has done this because he was threatened by the police officer.

The verb has serves as an auxiliary to done, and as a result we have a sentence in the Present Perfect tense. The auxiliary has here helps create the perfect tense.

In "standard" English, you cannot use the past participle form done without some auxiliary before it. You may use it in some dialect (see CarSmack's answer).

You can use the word done without an auxiliary only when you use it as an adjective:

The potatoes are done! (they are ready to eat: done is an adjective here, like in "the potatoes are brown")
This biathlete missed three targets. He is done. (he is doomed to fail in this competition)

If you want to use to do in a past sense without an auxiliary, you should put it in another form: did:

He did this because he was threatened by the police officer.


Posted 2014-12-27T05:28:32.827

Reputation: 36 949

so referring your clear answer we can not use [done] alone in a sentence? – High then Hide – 2014-12-27T06:19:54.063

@HighthenHide: As a verbal form - describing an action - no, we can't. But we can use it as an adjective (like "red, blue"). I've added an example. – CowperKettle – 2014-12-27T06:24:14.593

@HighthenHide: I see CarSmack added the dialect tag to your question, so probably done can also be used as a verb in some dialect, in simple talk between people ("colloquial speech"). But in the "standard" English, especially in written English, this would be unnatural, unless you quote someone speaking this way. – CowperKettle – 2014-12-27T06:35:44.543

1Copperkettle thank you in advance I got what I wanted from my question by your great help – High then Hide – 2014-12-27T06:52:36.813