- For Teachers
Please clarify these queries.
Which usage is correct - ain't I or aren't I?
I am a scientist,________________________
A) ain't I ?
B) am I not?
C) aren't I?
D) weren't I?
Is 'Shall we?' the right question tag?
Let's decline the invitation _____________________________
A) should we?
B) shall we?
C) will we?
D) won't we?
If you must choose only one answer, then I guess it would
be am I not. Everyone agrees that this is correct English.
In real life, however, most native speakers would probably
say aren't I because it takes too long to say am I not, and
because it sounds so formal. Most teachers would tell you
to avoid ain't because many (not all!!!) people use ain't only
when they want to be humorous or funny.
The two academies I have worked for in Spain (as well as the biggest and most respected English teaching system in Spain) insist that when a student constructs a sentence, they use contractions wherever possible.
Teacher: Where have you been on holiday?
Student: I have been to Italy.
Teacher: Good, but instead of "I have", what could you say?
Student: Ah yes, of course. I've been to Italy.
Teacher: Great. OK, next question!
I don't think we use "aren't I" instead of "am I not" because it's faster, just because it's now natural, regular English.
I also don't think "ain't" is used to be humorous/funny. I personally agree that it's poor English and I don't use it, but it's not used for amusement value, it's simply how some people choose to speak.
"1706, originally a contraction of am not, and in proper use with that sense until it began to be used as a generic contraction for are not, is not, etc., in early 19c. Cockney dialect of London, popularized by representations of this in Dickens, etc., which led to the word being banished from correct English."
With or without that reference, "ain't" is not poor English. On the contrary, it seems to be used not uncommonly in certain dialects of AmE. Is is informal, however, and wouldn't be used in written English unless you were writing in the dialect in question.
Thanks for your quick responses. Learnt quite a lot. Glad to see so many perspectives on a single point.