Is "are you done" as compared with "are you finished" very informal and kind of aggressive, rude -- so you can use that with people you're close with and not strangers.

So a boss wouldn't say that to his employee. though I imagine that he could if he said it in a nice tone?

Also, a waiter, I image, won't say to you "are you done with your meal?". But they might say "have you finished you meal?"

So "are you done" connotes negative stuff, like impatience and anger. That's what we might say to someone who's trying to explain themselves in a stupid way -- so that's like saying "you should stop talking".

My main question: So it is normal and casual and non-agressive for fathers to ask something like:

  • Joe, are you done with your homework?
  • No but I'm about to do it.
  • Well, just make sure (that) your future job does not involve deadlines.

Also, should we be careful when saying "I'm done." because that may mean "I've finished writing my essay" but also "I don't want to write this stupid essay and I won't!"

2 Answers 2


Collins calls it informal, but I don't think it's necessarily rude or aggressive.

As you say, to be done with something is to have finished it, so Joe would logically reply "I haven't started it, but I'm about to do it."

"I'm done" can mean "I've had enough", "I'm exhausted", but not "I refuse to do it".

  • And with the wrong tone of voice, Thank you is nasty and foul, but the words are positive. Waiters in non-Michelin restaurants ask if diners are done with a dish all the time. Mar 3 at 15:21

Both can also mean giving up on something, even without task completion (or even giving up on a person, like a romantic partner). In that sense it has very much the same meaning as "I'm through with ...". If you are going to make a distinction along that spectrum, I would say that "finished" is more associated with actual completion, but it's quite loose.

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