I would like to know the difference between the following two sentences

Has he finished reading the book?


Is he finished reading the book?

Appreciate any insight.

  • I don't think the latter is correct. I expect a preposition "with" with a noun phrase complement.
    – user178049
    May 29 '17 at 12:45
  • @user178049 So when does Has and Is are used at the beginning of a sentence?
    – Jacob
    May 29 '17 at 13:05
  • They are used in a question. (Google subject-auxiliary inversion.) But I think "finished" is a verb in the first sentence and "finished" is an adjective in the second sentence."Finished"when used as an adjective normally takes a preposition "with". Btw, I'm not a grammarian, so I'm not very sure about my explanation.
    – user178049
    May 29 '17 at 13:09
  • I would forget the adjective idea here. To be finished doing something is a verb. To finish doing something is also a verb.
    – Lambie
    May 29 '17 at 15:00

Both of these mean much the same thing. It's really just two ways to ask the same question. The first asks whether a particular action is complete, while the second asks whether a particular condition is true.

A similar example

Have you finished eating?
Are you finished eating?

In much the same way (with slightly different grammar)

Have the children come home from school?
Are the children home from school?

  • Thanks for the explanation. Is my second sentence correct?
    – Jacob
    May 30 '17 at 10:43
  • Yes, it's fine. I think it sounds odd to some people because of the context -- it's not entirely natural to ask "is he finished reading the book?" while it is natural to ask "are you finished eating dinner?" More natural is "Is he finished with the book?"
    – Andrew
    May 30 '17 at 12:14
  • @ Has he finished reading the book? can be also considered correct grammatically?
    – Jacob
    May 30 '17 at 12:16
  • @user75ponic Yes, it's the normal use of the present perfect. "Has he come home?" "Has he visited his grandmother recently?" "Has he washed the dishes?" etc.
    – Andrew
    May 30 '17 at 12:18

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