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  1. #1
    ALDITO's Avatar
    ALDITO is offline Newbie
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    Post What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    Hello folks!!! I am trying to solve this long-time-questioned issue for ESL learners. My question is how good and polite is the use of AIN'T and then, what does it say of a person's mood according to the different circunstances? It is very useful that we all post on this website, so we can help each other out. Good luck on your learning of the English!
    Last edited by ALDITO; 07-Oct-2009 at 01:04.

  2. #2
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    Quote Originally Posted by ALDITO View Post
    Hello folks!!! I am trying to solve this long-time-questioned issue for ESL learners. My question is how good and polite is the use of AIN'T and then, what does it say of a person's mood according to the different circunstances? It is very useful that we all post on this website, so we can help each other out. Good luck on your learning of the English!
    "Ain't" is always substandard English. It is never used by ordinary adults -- unless they are joking or quoting or something like that. But it is not used unselfconsciously by even moderately educated speakers.

    You might say in a humorous way, "Well, ain't life grand" but you'd never say it without the intent to be comical.

    I never hear it spoken except in the form of quotes and allusions to well-known phrases that use "ain't"

    "Ain't that a shame
    My tears fell like rain.
    Ain't that a shame
    You're the one to blame"
    ~ Fats Domino
    YouTube - Ain't That A Shame" - Fats Domino


    "Ain't like grand?"
    ~ Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde
    "The accommodations ain't exactly de luxe."
    ~ Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde


    "I ain't got nobody
    And nobody cares for me."
    ~ old standard
    YouTube - Mills Brothers: I Ain't Got Nobody - 1930's


    "You're a good-looking riverboat
    And ain't that sweet-eyed blindness good to me!
    Don't ask me 'cause I ain't gonna tell ya
    What I've been drinking"
    ~ The 5th Dimension
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYmn2aS9KWU
    Last edited by Ann1977; 07-Oct-2009 at 01:37.

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    It isn't standard English, and it should be avoided by all students trying to learn the language. It is used in some minority dialects, and often in songs.
    There is no relation to politeness or mood, etc. There's no right time to use it.

    To your question: What does it mean? It means:
    [I] am not.
    [he/she /it] is not.
    [you, they, we] are not.

  4. #4
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It isn't standard English, and it should be avoided by all students trying to learn the language. It is used in some minority dialects, and often in songs.
    There is no relation to politeness or mood, etc. There's no right time to use it.
    I too was struck by how often it's used in popular lyrics. I wonder if that's because of the demands of the scansion? (and of course, the liberty to use "ain't" in pop music when it wouldn't sit so well in poetry)?

    I think many other illiteracies are tolerated without a second thought in song lyrics.

    Me and my shadow
    Strolling down the Avenue

    She don't love you
    Like I love you

    I don't want no other love.
    Baby, it's just you I'm thinking of.

    Do you have any theories about why this is?
    -----------------------

    My godson learned this little rhyme at school, but not from the teacher, I believe:

    Don't say "ain't"
    Or your mother will faint
    And your father will fall
    In a bucket of paint.

    This is apparently a "good one" in the kindergarten set.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ann1977 View Post
    But it is not used unselfconsciously by even moderately educated speakers.
    In BrE, usage is more widespread than that. Traditionally, it was used by both the upper and the working class, with the middle class being the ones who frowned on it and in colloquial conversation it can be heard more frequently and unselfconsciously than your pattern. Naturally, the usage does come in for criticism and there are plenty who would never use it except to quote, etc.

  6. #6
    Ann1977 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: What exactly does AIN'T mean and when is it supposed to be used?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    In BrE, usage is more widespread than that. Traditionally, it was used by both the upper and the working class, with the middle class being the ones who frowned on it and in colloquial conversation it can be heard more frequently and unselfconsciously than your pattern. Naturally, the usage does come in for criticism and there are plenty who would never use it except to quote, etc.
    Yes, I think I knew that. Thanks for reminding me.

    Lord Peter Wimsey says "ain't" and drops his final g's, I believe.

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