1

In a English drama, I heard an expression I can't understand like the following.

I'm not finished.

I know that the verb "finish" can be an intransitive or transitive.

by the way, I can't understand the meaning of the expression, and why the sentence is made with a passive voice. Is there anyone who can explain it?

Does it mean that I don't finish myself?

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  • I would say "I haven't finished', but it's quite common, especially for speakers of American English, to use to be with finished, meaning the same (what I am doing is still not complete). Oct 5, 2021 at 12:12
  • What do you mean by drama? Do you mean a play?
    – Lambie
    Oct 5, 2021 at 14:28

3 Answers 3

2

I'm not finished.

If the person is referring to work or an activity then this is broadly equivalent to...

  • I am not finished
  • I have not yet finished
  • I have not completed the work
  • I still have something to do
  • There is still effort required
  • The task I'm working on is not complete

It could imply a desire to continue...

  • I haven't finished my food so please don't take my plate
  • I'm still speaking so please don't interrupt, keep giving me your attention

In the context of drama the character might be expressing that they are not defeated or not yet exhausted. Often they will appear to have lost or be close to exhaustion. So it could mean something like the following...

  • I have not been defeated
  • I will continue despite a set back or hardship
  • I have more effort/argument to make
  • I will return to get revenge

I'm not finished, I'm just getting started.

A common rhetorical expression (often in the context of a conflict) to say I have plenty more to say/do.

With regards to Passive Voice. I'm not sure it is purely Passive.

This article gives good reasoning to that effect.

Another diagnostic test, which can sometimes be useful, to see if the candidate word is an adjective, is to try to see if the candidate word can be modified by "too" or "very": "I am very finished with the website for now". Nah, that isn't convincing either. Compare to: "Tom is very tired".

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The construction to be + past participle is called a passive infinitive.

In English grammar, the passive infinitive is an infinitive construction in which the agent (or performer of the action) either appears in a prepositional phrase following the verb or is not identified at all. It is also called the present passive infinitive.

The passive infinitive is made up of the marker to + be + a past participle (also known as the -ed or -en form), as in "The case is to be decided by a judge."

passive infinitive

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  • There's no "to" in the OP's example
    – gotube
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:41
  • @gotube Yes, it is the verb to be: what if it were: am finished? We refer to it as the verb to be plus past participle. Otherwise, you have to write out the whole thing: am/is/were + past participle.
    – Lambie
    Oct 9, 2021 at 12:36
  • Your whole answer is about passive infinitive, which you state requires the word "to". The OP's question contains no "to" and therefore no passive infinitive.
    – gotube
    Oct 9, 2021 at 16:02
  • @gotube The passive infinitive is made up of the marker to + be + a past participle (also known as the -ed or -en form), as in "The case is to be decided by a judge." See my link.
    – Lambie
    Oct 15, 2021 at 13:33
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While your example sentence has the form be-verb + verb-ed, it is not a passive form.

Here, "am" is just a linking verb, and "finished" is an adjective. It's the same grammar structure as "I'm not happy" or "I'm not hungry". Here are some examples with "-ed" adjectives: "I'm not interested", and "I'm not drunk". In these cases, "finished", "interested" and "drunk" are adjectives formed from past participles.

When we use "is finished" about a person, it means the same as has finished, so "I'm not finished (doing something)" means "I haven't finished (doing something)."

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  • You don't define it, you give no reference and you didn't realize we say to be just to mean the verb and not that the phrase contains to... And: "He is finished" is not the same as "He has finished". In several sense.
    – Lambie
    Oct 9, 2021 at 12:38
  • @Lambie Are you downvoting me out of spite?
    – gotube
    Oct 9, 2021 at 16:04
  • No, I am downvoting you because of your comment to me and the fact you don't name this or give a reference: The passive infinitive is made up of the marker to + be + a past participle (also known as the -ed or -en form), as in "The case is to be decided by a judge." See my link.
    – Lambie
    Oct 15, 2021 at 13:34

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