The Way You Speak is Hurt My Head.

Good heavens, is it Wednesday only?  And I still have to think of something entertaining to write for three more days?  It’s going to be a long week…

The good news is that tomorrow I’m opening one of my journals from my Junior and Senior years of high school (grades 11 and 12, Canadians!), for all the world to read…but probably only the hundred or so who read this blog will actually see it—far cry from the entire world.  As a bonus, on this one day only, I’m not even changing any names!  {Okay, so there’s one or two I’ve blotted out, but I am keeping some in their entirety.}

Trust me, this is something you won’t want to miss—I had [er…have?] quite a flair for the dramatic, even back then.  I’m fairly certain you won’t be disappointed.

For today, however, I want to dissect Canadian lexicon: specifically the way Southern Albertans communicate done-ness. As in, being done—or finished—with any particular thing.

If I were to announce I was done with work for the day, I would say,”I’m done with work,” or “I’m done working.”

Let’s recap:  I’m done with work.  I’m done working.

If a born-and-raised Southern Albertan wanted to say he was done with work, he would say, “I’m done work.”

Or, in the same words:  I’m done work.

…Is there something missing there? My older sister can tell us all exactly what role the “with” plays in my sentence (adjective, pronoun, blah blah blah can you believe I’m actually going to major in English and I don’t even know the parts of speech?).  All I know is, I’m fairly certain the “with” is supposed to be there.

In my little head, this is a black-and-white issue.  Telling people that I’m done dinner [Done dinner? What does that mean?  Am I done eating dinner?  Cooking dinner?  Digesting dinner?  What?] is as silly as saying “I’m talking phone” or “I’m play piano” or “I chubby bum” or “I Tarzan; you Jane.”

When I first met Poor Kyle, we’d be talking on the phone and he’d announce, “I’m on my way to your house—I’m done work,” I just thought it was a cute little speech impediment he’d gotten from being raised by parents who call the United States “The New-yited States.”  But after living in Alberta for only a few months, I realised it wasn’t a Poor Kyle family nuance…I found myself hearing it everywhere:

The waitress at a restaurant asks if I’m done dinner.

The cashier asks if I’m done my shopping.  Not if I HAVE done my shopping…if I AM done my shopping.

Oh, you’re done your holiday? How was it?

Hey, Camille, I’m done school, you wanna hang out?

I’m sorry I can’t answer your questions; I’m too distracted trying to make them sound right in my brain.

I’m not making this up.

I took a poll of, oh, five or six Canadians [not in the same family], and they all agreed:  Saying they are done WITH something indicates, to them, that they are never going back.  They’re done, absolutely.  Forever.  If they were to say they were done with work, it would be in a fit of rage, and they’d better have a good backup plan, because it means they’re completely done working.  It’s final.

I don’t know where this came from, or how Canadian teachers haven’t corrected it, but it is a very real phenomenon.

I’m not crazy, am I?  Please, someone tell me I’m right and they’re wrong.  Because after typing it incorrectly so many times, it’s sort of starting to look normal to me.  So help me if I raise my children to say things like “I’m done hockey practise!”

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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19 Responses to The Way You Speak is Hurt My Head.

  1. niki says:

    what silly language!! noticed how i left out the ‘a’…does that make it canadian??

    ps. if you want that recipe, i shall share it with you. except you’ll have to give me your email address. i’m a little too stingy to share it with the entire blogging world. what a terrible person i am!!

  2. Anonymous says:


    NO, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. That is totally improper English. The preposition, with in this case, is absolutely imperative to syntax and should not ever be forgotten. Just reading this made my eyeballs itch; I never noticed that while I was there visiting you. I’ll still love PK anyway, though.

  3. Joel says:

    I could never live in Canada. I would have to correct everybody that spoke to me.

    No prepositions… What’s next?

    Eh, no subjects are necessary. In fact, we’ll just communicate via gesture. It’ll eliminate any confusion.

  4. HeatherPride says:

    You’re totally right! And this was totally hysterical! Don’t feel weird if I come back and read this again later. This might be my fave Camille post of all time.

  5. anonymous says:

    Funny stuff. It’s seems unbelievable. Maybe it has something to do with
    French being the other language up there. Is that a possibility that the with got lost in translation?

  6. Holly Decker says:

    for real?
    i cant believe people can just leave out important words like that. hm…
    but ya know, now that i think about it, in my time in Boston, i was able to hear the beloved “Boston” accent. and even though i found some of their phrases interesting and peculiar… sometimes it just made my day to hear it.
    well, i done messagin’.

  7. Whitney says:

    crazies. all of them! That is very peculiar. I completely agree with you. Im sure its going to be running through my head all day and then I will be correcting it in my head all day too. BLAST!

  8. Jami says:

    weird. you better just pack you bags (along with PK of course) and move back here. There is no sense in trying to figure out their language…

  9. WHAT?! How does that sound right to them?!

  10. NoseLess-inMesa says:

    Tomorrow’s post doesn’t happen to be in response to my question does it? If this be the case, I shall be filled with utmost contentment and joy. Ok, I done talking.

  11. Loved your post, and I can’t wait to ask my friend who was born in Canada if they say that in the part she is from.

    I was definitely amused but, i can see where they are coming from in their explanation for usage. Usually we would have to capitalize the DONE to show emphasis, if we were to mean finality or add some euphamism such as : “Stick a fork in me! I’m done with work.

  12. anonymous says:

    bizarro. i never knew that. i guess you learn something new everyday.

  13. anon10 says:

    Wow. Weird. One of my pet peeves is bad grammar or people saying things that are WRONG! So, sorry to say, I would never live there. And, sorry to say that we will never be next door neighbors.

  14. raygon says:

    That would irritate me too. Good luck.

  15. Allison says:

    My goodness Camille, what kind of place did you move to? It must be in the middle of nowhere. So much so that the beginnings of an entirely new language are developing. A language only the native fully understand. I think you should be afraid. Very afraid. hee hee

  16. It is interesting how responses to posts differ. I didn’t expect it to really be a guilt trip. I thought people would like that post. I was so wrong. I can’t seem to find what people like. How do you do it?!

  17. Camille says:

    niki– Sweet! You must really like me! I’ll be emailing you shortly…

    Anonymous my sister– Validation is such sweet sorrow. I don’t like making out the Canadians to look ignorant. I don’t want people thinking less of them. It’s just a thing they do. And yet, I so enjoy being right.

    Joel– Hey! You guys (I consider a comment from you actually to be a joint comment from you and your wife) haven’t been around here in ages! I thought you hated me. Welcome back.

    HeatherPride– I won’t feel weird at all, except for the fact that I didn’t think this post was all that great. But hey, love what you will. I appreciate anything I get.

    anonymous– You raise a good point. Maybe Quebec French is different, but I know French French people actually say “finis avec le….” which means “finished with the [whatever].” So the evidence is inconclusive.

    Holly Decker– It makes my day to hear “SORE-ee” and “beg” (in place of “bag”), but not “done my dinner.” I do love Poor Kyle though.

    Whitney– Sorry to screw up your brain. Mine hurts too, if that makes you feel any better.

    Jami– I don’t think you would like having me in Mesa as much as you say you would. When I visit, I’m lots of fun. If I lived there, I’d be BORING.

    Emily Merkley– My thoughts exactly.

    NoseLess-inMesa– Absolutely it does.

    Molly Shumway Rawlins– Ooh, let me know what your friend says!

    anonymous– I do learn something new every day. Today I learned that when the sign says “2 Hour Parking,” somebody actually comes by and checks up on that. I have a parking ticket to prove it.

    anon10– That is sad to know that we’ll never be next-door neighbors. The sorrow is slightly tempered, however, by the fact that I don’t actually know who you are, so I don’t really know what I’m missing. I do appreciate your regular comments, though. Based on how nice you are online, you’d probably be a lovely neighbor to have.

    raygon– Thanks.

    Allison– How did you know? It IS in the middle of nowhere!

    Emily Merkley– I make people mad all the time. The only way I’ve found not to make people mad is to write boring posts. For example, not a single Canadian has commented on this post today, yet I know for a fact that 50% of my readers are Canadian, and my stats have not changed. I’ve probably gone and offended the whole dang country, but the other 50% of my readers found it highly amusing. There’s no way to please ’em all. Just keep at it. I check your blog every day simply because I’m almost always guaranteed something new will be written. That’s the best thing, I think. Keep it up!

  18. Kyle's Granny says:

    Kyle, are you done sleeping? Please wake up and see what your little wifey is doing, alienating 50% of her blog. who are all too aghast to comment …. but hey, at least amusing the other 50%. Oh Canada, my home and native land, far and wide, O Canada, at least we understand.

  19. Kyle's Uncle says:

    Mither dear, i was not aghast, i merely considered the aforementioned post, ‘much ado about nothing’. As we all know, regional colloquialisms and variations in syntax occur world round, for all time. Possibly moreso in Canada, given our ‘middle of nowhereness’, and current mix of European heritage. Kyle is after all largely English and Scottish in bloodline. Makes sense to me, though i would not say, i’m done work. But that’s just me.

    Hey, big C., keep on truckin’, girl!
    Dadgum. ;-)

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