Give me a call when you're done doing that.

Give me a call when you've done that.

What's difference between the two meaning wise?
Are they both grammatically correct?
Do they both imply "Call me after you've finished doing that"?

  • Please make your tiles more relevant to your actual question.
    – Catija
    Jun 20, 2016 at 16:36
  • when you're done and when you've done that are both perfectly natural and mean the same (but the first might be considered slightly more informal). Your suggested when you're done doing that is a bit of a mouthful, so it wouldn't occur anywhere near as often (but it's not "wrong"). Jun 20, 2016 at 17:04
  • @FumbleFingers, would "Give me a call when you've finished doing that/Give me a call when you finish doing that" mean the same as well? Jun 20, 2016 at 18:13
  • I imagine that if you played short contextualizing audios to 1000 native speakers, half with 've and half without, then asked them a minute later whether the version they'd just heard included 've, most statisticians would say that the number of people who apparently heard the difference wasn't even statistically significant (it certainly wouldn't be accurate, in terms of what they actually heard). This isn't a distinction that keeps Anglophones awake at night - in truth, mostly they wouldn't even notice it. This sort of thing bothers learners, but not native speakers. Jun 20, 2016 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


done doing

refers to the task or action as one that will have taken a not inconsiderable amount of time to complete

have done

refers to the completion of the action or task without reference to the amount time it will have taken, either because the task by its nature takes very little time, or because the speaker is not interested in the amount of time it will take.

Paint this picket fence, and let me know when you're done doing it, and I'll give you another chore to keep you out of trouble.

Turn off the lights, and when you've done that, go to bed.

  • Your last sentence is a good example, in that if we were presented with Turn off the lights, and when you're done doing that... we'd have to "contextualize" it by assuming that there are many lights to be switched off (probably, using switches in several locations), and that turning them all off will therefore be a relatively lengthy process. Jun 21, 2016 at 11:51

Lets look at it without the contractions for clarity.

"Call when you have done that," is meant as a step in instructions. It is presumed that there is no discernible gap in time from task completion until the call.

"Call when you are done doing that" means you don't need to call before you are done, but you can do something else between the task and the call as long as the call occurs after the task.

The first would likely be used by a supervisor or trainer; the second, by a friend to coordinate schedules.


"Done doing" implies that your engagement in the task is done without implying that the task itself is complete. If shoveling the snow is a 3 day job, your wife might say "when you are done doing that, come in and get some hot chocolate." She doesn't mean you need to stay out there for 3 days, but rather, when you are done doing it [for now], you should get some hot chocolate.

"Have done" implies that the task is complete. Once you have done the shoveling, we also need to salt the sidewalk.

("Done doing" can also imply expected failure. You tell your wife that you're going to fix the sink. She might say "well when you're done doing that, I'll call the plumber." You didn't get the task done, but you're done doing it -- you've given up.)

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