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AIBU to call in grammar pedants on this

59 replies

PlutoAjder · 20/11/2019 15:53

A friend hasn't had a very good education and she's often embarrassed, asking me to explain something privately etc (a good example was she thought shaking hands with either hand was ok but someone at work sniggered about it so I had to explain, little things like that).

She often uses poor grammar and I can usually help as a native speaker.. e.g. you "threw" the ball,you didn't "throwed" it.

She's always done wierd things with the word "done" but I don't know how to help her, I'm not that hot on it myself! I've tried to print out some resources from English language websites before which she pins to the kitchen pinboard.. but I don't even know what I'm looking for with this "done" problem.

Examples of what she says:
I done the laundry (instead of I did the laundry)
I seen the dog (instead of I have seen the dog)
We done the dishes (instead of we have done the dishes or we did the dishes).

It's almost like she doesn't understand when a verb uses TO DO in it . You know, she says "I ate" but anything with "to do" in the sentence she uses the past tense of the verb.

Does that make sense to people on here with better grammar knowledge, and can you tell me how you might describe the problem so I can look for online help to print for her? (Or better yet point me in the direction of some?)

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


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PlutoAjder · 20/11/2019 15:55

Btw she's asked me to help, I'm not just randomly printing stuff to improve her Grin

OP posts:

Monsterinmyshoe · 20/11/2019 16:04

I would just search online for resources. There are plenty of sites around regarding grammar. A good dictionary usually has a section on grammar too.

I'm one of those people who aren't really that bothered about grammar if I can understand what the person intends to say. There are far bigger things to worry about.


TheMidasTouch · 20/11/2019 16:04

Btw, I would say 'I saw the dog'.


Todayissunny · 20/11/2019 16:05

'Done' and 'seen' are past participle used with the perfect tense - they need to be paired with the verb 'have'. 'Have done' and 'have seen' are the present perfect tense.
If she is talking about completed actions so needs to use the present simple tense - 'did' and 'saw'. If she is talking about things just finished and relevant at the time of talking then present perfect ' have seen' ' have done'.
Too long to go into more details here but you can find lists of verbs with past and past participles.
Most past simple and past participles end in -ed. But see and do are irregular.


Todayissunny · 20/11/2019 16:07

This is quite basic grammar taught when learning english as a second language. Have a look for a good grammar book for learning english as a foreign language.


TheMidasTouch · 20/11/2019 16:08

Instead of saying' 'done' she could use the word for what she actually did.
I've washed/dried the dishes.


RedPandaFluff · 20/11/2019 16:11

I'm from Northern Ireland and lots of friends and family use "done" and "seen" in the same way, @PlutoAjder - it drives me crazy! I have to clamp my lips together not to correct them 😄


PlutoAjder · 20/11/2019 16:12

I think the comments about tenses is what's wrong, and why I struggled to explain.. it's this Have done' and 'have seen' are the present perfect tense.

I'll look further for some examples and info online for English learners , thank you! Even if she is technically English it helps.

OP posts:

CaptainMyCaptain · 20/11/2019 16:13

'I saw the dog' is the Perfect tense - the action has been completed.
'I have seen the dog' and 'I had seen the dog' are other past tenses ( one is possibly Pluperfect and one is Past Perfect but I'm willing to be corrected). They refer to an earlier past.
'I was seeing the dog' is Past Imperfect - the action has not been completed, may still ongoing.


squirrelnutkins1 · 20/11/2019 16:13

I know a lady from Manchester and she speaks like this. She'll say "I seen him, I did, I seen him"


araiwa · 20/11/2019 16:15

Find an english as foreign language and look up past simple and present perfect tenses- theyll show how and when to use them


PlutoAjder · 20/11/2019 16:15

Btw this is important to her as she's just started working at an accountancy practice and intends to work her way into their Training scheme on college release, I'm not there but it sounds like she's surrounded by uni grads and she doesn't really fit in. Hence the sniggering fucker.

OP posts:

CaptainMyCaptain · 20/11/2019 16:16

Present Perfect - I'll have to look that up now. It's about 50 years since I did this at school. Knowing which one is right in context comes naturally but I forget the terminology.


Todayissunny · 20/11/2019 16:25

Sorry confused you.... I meant to say saw is PAST SIMPLE..... (it's been a long day ... )
Captain - saw is past simple. Have seen is present perfect


Todayissunny · 20/11/2019 16:27

Present simple - I do the dishes
Present continuous - I am doing the dishes
Past simple - I did the dishes
Present perfect - I have done the dishes
Past perfect - I had done the dishes


Todayissunny · 20/11/2019 16:28

Past continuous - I was doing the dishes...


M3lon · 20/11/2019 16:33

Oh god, why is English such a nightmare?

I speak entirely correctly, from a grammatical point of view, but have no idea how or why. Hopefully my DH will deal with the grammar side of home educating our daughter. He learned Greek and Latin at school. I went to a run down comp at a time when grammar wasn't fashionable.


smemorata · 20/11/2019 16:37

I done the laundry (instead of I did the laundry)
I seen the dog (instead of I have seen the dog)

She is using the past participle instead of 1) the past simple and 2) the present perfect.

This is what she needs to look at if she wants to "correct" her English but actually what she is saying is perfectly acceptable in plenty of local dialects of English so I would encourage her to ignore the snide comments and carry on as she is!


BraveGoldie · 20/11/2019 17:03

The two important ones here, which are confusing for many are:

the simple past- when action is complete and time bound. Eg: you can add a specific time point to the sentence. (I saw the dog last Tuesday; "I lived in France in 1999" (meaning you don't anymore); I did the dishes two hours ago (and have completed them); "I screwed up" (when situation is now resolved and you are just recounting a story in the past)

The present perfect- when action started in the past but action or result of action is still continuing or relevant to your situation now. Can often be linked to a starting point or a time period coming up to the present. Eg: "I have seen the dog many times since I moved in to the neighborhood"; "I have been washing dishes for the last half hour" (if I am just finishing or still doing it); I have lived in France since 1999 (meaning I still do); "I have screwed up big time" (when the results of the situation are still being dealt with).

There is a messy middle range, like "oh sorry I finished the biscuits" or "sorry - I have finished the biscuits" are both correct enough - just depending on whether your focus is on the finishing or the fact that you can't now offer more. But most of the time there is a clear right or wrong.

The way the date is used is often the determining factor (Eg 'since date" never goes with simple past. Smile


CaptainMyCaptain · 20/11/2019 17:06

That's a really clear explanation although I think I might have learned different names for the tenses.


Stickybeaksid · 20/11/2019 17:34

Is she Irish. It’s a fairly common thing here. Drives me mad


PlutoAjder · 20/11/2019 18:46

Sorry no. English, Glaswegian dad and English mum from York. Not Irish at all. Interesting though!

OP posts:

pinksquash13 · 20/11/2019 20:05

I teach my yr3s that it's only 'done' if you've got 'have' as well. Otherwise it's did.

E.g. I have done my homework or I did my homework.


pinksquash13 · 20/11/2019 20:05

Have or has


JasonPollack · 20/11/2019 20:32

Common in the NE.

On a different note... What hand are you supposed to use to shake with?! Blush

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