I'm bankrupted?

I saw a sentence from a TV show. “I’m bankrupted, completely.”

Question 1) “bankrupt” can be an adjective, can I just say: I’m bankrupt? (without “ed”) and I don’t understand why it’s used “bankrupted”? Is it a passive voice?

Question 2) Can I just say “I’m broke” here?

Thank you!

I imagine that people say they are bankrupt without referring to who is to blame.
Or, they think that they are “bankrupted” by something or someone else. They feel someone else is responsible.

"The series follows Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, as she is forced out of Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert-Lurie, Kagan, Tannebaum, & Associates after an enormous financial scam destroys the reputation of her goddaughter Maia (Rose Leslie) and Diane’s savings, leading them to join Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at one of Chicago’s preeminent law firms. "

  1. Yes, ‘I’m bankrupt’ is better / more common / more accurate. I would never say ‘bankrupted’.
  2. Broke is not quite the same thing. Broke just means that you have no money or not much money, while bankruptcy is a legal status. So saying you’re bankrupt carries more weight.

bankrupt or bankrupted

I would never say ‘i am bankrupted’ only ‘i have been bankrupted’. ‘i am’ requires you to say ‘bankrupt’ without the -ed.

‘morally bankrupt’ is also another saying containing this word.

“Diane Lockhart, as she is forced out of Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert-Lurie, Kagan, Tannebaum, & Associates after an enormous financial scam destroys the reputation of her goddaughter Maia (Rose Leslie) and Diane’s savings.”

She is bankrupted by an enormous financial scam. (=An enormous financial scam bankrupts her.) So she might say “I am bankrupted (by the financial scam).” She personally feels that she is not to blame.


“NHS could be bankrupted by ‘unsustainable’ £65bn clinical negligence bill, warn experts.”

Very perceptive, lilyyang!

Figuratively, the adjective ‘bankrupt’ means that one is completely lacking in a particular quality, namely when someone is said to be “morally bankrupt.” It may be precisely because of this figurative meaning that some people try to avoid saying, “I am bankrupt” and instead say, colloquially, “I am bankrupted,” because saying, “I am bankrupt” might carry the connotation “I am morally bankrupt.”

Typically as a verb, ‘bankrupted’ is used in the active voice to express that something or someone caused a person or entity to be reduced (or nearly reduced) to bankruptcy. For example, “Mayor Richard M. Daley nearly bankrupted Chicago,” i.e. he nearly caused the City of Chicago to be driven into bankruptcy.

“I am bankrupted” means “I am reduced to bankruptcy,” so I agree that it would be best to say, “I have been bankrupted,” i.e. “I have been reduced to bankruptcy.” You are correct to note that this is passive voice: I have been bankrupted (by someone or something that is unnamed).

This problem of using the simple present “I am” form of the verb ‘to be’ versus “I have been” with the past participle (for example, “I am detained” versus “I have been detained”) is not so problematic in other languages, but it certainly is problematic in English and should be avoided, unless or until you become familiar with specific colloquialisms. For example, “I am drugged” has a completely different connotation than “I have been drugged.” “I am drugged” can colloquially mean that I have taken a fair amount of drugs or that I have been given sedatives by the doctors, whereas “I have been drugged” means that someone else has caused me to ingest drugs without my knowledge.

More often than not, a person who says “I have been bankrupted” is not speaking literally, as if to say, “I need to legally file for bankruptcy,” but rather that their money supply for the month has run low. For example, “I have been bankrupted (by) buying my friend a birthday present.”

I haven’t seen this particular TV show or episode, but judging from the still, I get the sense (perhaps incorrectly) that, if the character in this scene is talking to a lawyer and colloquially declares, in the literal sense, “I am bankrupted, completely,” he is probably expressing that he has come to realize that outside forces have (suddenly) caused him to (very soon) become indigent. One possible scenario might be, “I have been accused of this crime which has caused me to have to spend all my money on lawyers to establish my innocence. This will bankrupt me.”

When you say, “I’m (completely) broke,” it typically means that you have (temporarily) run out of money, not that you are completely indigent. I remember as a teenager, if one of my friends were out of money, they would sometimes joke, “I am from that post-Renaissance period called baroque.”

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Nope, just because other conjugations of ‘to be’ make sense it doesn’t mean they all make sense.

I would never say ‘i am bankrupted’ in the context you are proposing. IT sounds weird. But you’d need to be a native to know that.

You could say ‘i am bankrupted BY’ perhaps. But nobody would say ‘i am bankrupted, completely’. It’s ‘i have been bankrupted (by someone/thing else)’.

“I was bankrupted.”
How about this?

Assuming that “I have been bankrupted” is a common expression, how does the difference between the present PERFECT tense and the past tense make sense?

Is it related to how long the process of bankruptcy continues? Do you use the expression “I have been bankrupted” if the process and its effects still exist and you “are bankrupt” now? I am not sure.


“I was forced into bankruptcy” sounds much better, in my view.


I wonder who delivers the line “I am bankrupted, completely.”
Diane Lockhart, or?
She is supposed to be a lawyer in the TV drama, and she might speak differently as compared with other people. Ordinary people use common expressions in English, but lawyers tend to use legal jargon, which most people sometimes happen to be unable to “apprehend”.

It seems that “I am bankrupted” signifies that “some things or some people have bankrupted me” and the process “bankruptcy” is still going on." He or she is in the continuing process of bankruptcy and is, of course, in the state of being “bankrupt” in the ordinary sense.

The Good Wife was a very interesting “political” TV drama.

Neither is common. I was bankrupted is better. Forced into bankruptcy like jungleboy says is even better.

Bear in mind that even though this is from a TV series, the writers could be a bit thick.

I am bankrupted isn’t legalese, it’s just poor writing from whoever wrote the series because it’s not proper English.

You also mean ‘comprehend’ not ‘apprehend’.

There’s no need for me to analyse it like you analyse it though - ‘i am bankrupted’ sounds wrong. I don’t know why - because i’m a native speaker i just know it’s wrong.

Sorry to have troubled you, but I mean “comprehend” by “apprehend”. I wanted to know how many native speakers of English would be confused. Thank you for your comment.

Definitions 2 and 3 are not in common use and could lead to misunderstandings. Comprehend is much better.

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Well yeah it is confusing because the meanings which are not ‘arrest’ or ‘seize’ are totally redundant and almost never used.

Strange choice of word.