What Does AIN’T Mean? – Is it Correct English? – With Example Sentences & Quiz

(Last Updated On: January 25, 2018)

English Grammar Books:

  1. The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide
  2. English Grammar for Busy People – Everyday Grammar
  3. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
  4. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need
  5. Fundamentals of English Grammar with Audio CDs

Learn the different meanings of the word AIN’T and how to use it correctly. Also see – MOST COMMON MISTAKES IN ENGLISH & HOW TO AVOID THEM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Dax9…

Transcript: The word ‘ain’t’. You may have heard native speakers say it in real life, or in movies or songs. What does it mean? And should you use it in your own speech and writing? That’s what I’m going to teach you in this lesson. As always, there is a quiz at the end of the video to check your understanding. So let’s start. Alright, ‘ain’t’ is most commonly used in the place of three forms – am not, is not, and are not. Here’s an example: “You gotta believe me. I ain’t lyin’!” What does that mean? Well, it means the same thing as “You have got to believe me. I am not lying.” Here, ‘ain’t’ means ‘am not’. I want you to notice two other things in the first sentence: it has ‘gotta’ which is a contraction of ‘got to’, and the ‘have’ is missing – it just says ‘you gotta’. The other thing is ‘lyin’ in which the ‘g’ is dropped. These are features of informal, colloquial, spoken language. But the second sentence with the same meaning is more correct and acceptable in formal or semi-formal situations. So here’s an important thing you should know: ‘ain’t’ is a very informal word. So you should never use it in any formal or semi-formal situation, especially in writing. OK, here’s another example: That guy in the blue shirt – ain’t he the new manager? So what is the meaning of ‘ain’t’ here? The meaning is ‘isn’t’ – it’s like saying “Isn’t he the new manager?” Notice how this sentence has two parts – “That guy in the blue shirt” and “ain’t he the new manager?” – that’s OK in informal speech but the sentence is not well-connected. To make it more grammatical, we can say “Isn’t that man in the blue shirt the new manager?” – it’s more complex but it’s also more formal. Alright, what about this example: A mother says to her child: “You ain’t gettin’ no dessert until you eat your vegetables.” Can you understand the meaning? It means “You aren’t not getting any dessert until you eat your vegetables.” – dessert means cake or ice cream or something like that. So here, ‘ain’t’ means ‘aren’t’. Notice that the sentence says, ‘aint’ gettin’ no dessert’ – ‘ain’t’ is already a negative, and then you have another ‘no’ – this is called a double negative and it’s grammatically incorrect. But, again, in very informal speech, you will hear that sometimes. Now, we’ve talked about using ‘ain’t’ in the place of ‘am not’, ‘is not’ and ‘are not’. In some situations, you will also see the word used in the place of ‘have not’ and ‘has not’. For example: “We’re goin’ to New York to visit some relatives ‘cuz we ain’t been there in ages.” It means “because we haven’t been there in ages.” (‘in ages’ means ‘for a long time’). Here’s another one: “I loaned Jim $100 two months ago and he ain’t paid me back yet!” What does ‘ain’t’ mean here? It means ‘hasn’t’: “I lent Jim $100 two months ago, but he hasn’t paid me back yet!” – ‘lent’ is considered a little more formal than ‘loaned’ and the conjunction ‘but’ fits better in this sentence when we’re talking a little more formally. So here are all the sentences we’ve looked at. Can you see why ‘ain’t’ is considered bad English? It’s because one word is used in the place of so many other words. So the listener gets the impression that your vocabulary is limited and that’s why you’re using ‘ain’t’ instead of the more accurate words ‘am not’, ‘isn’t, ‘aren’t’, ‘haven’t’ or ‘hasn’t’. In fact, many people in academic and professional circles consider ‘ain’t’ to be a word only used by less educated people. So my suggestion is that you avoid ain’t. I don’t use it personally. Now, if you need to say it as part of a joke or in a line from a movie, then it’s OK. But in other situations, it’s best to just not use this word.

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