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I heard the sentence “I is free” in the movie Django Unchained. But is that really a well-formed sentence grammatically? Could I use it myself in regular conversation?

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closed as general reference by John Lawler, FumbleFingers, Bravo, Kristina Lopez, Hellion Jun 3 '13 at 17:25

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Do you mean something like "Rooms G, H, J and K are occupied, do you have any others?". "I is free." ;-) –  DavidR Jun 2 '13 at 16:40
As much as I love Tarantino I would definitely not recommend using Django as a point of reference for what should or should not be used in casual conversation... –  batpigandme Jun 2 '13 at 16:45
Arguably even though Sterling Archer often struggles to find le mot juste, the show does make a point of calling attention to some of the quirks of English. –  FumbleFingers Jun 2 '13 at 17:45
Have you tried to search for usage of this structure? “How is it that you can stand there and tell me I is free and still tell me what I got to do?" (Where? Who was that?) "Yay, I is free! School's over, as well as my demo reel and portfolio. Finished backing up junk sitting on the hard-drives." (Huh?) –  Kris Jun 3 '13 at 7:11

2 Answers 2

African-American Vernacular English. Example:

Porgy, I’s yo’ woman now, I is, I is! An’ I ain’t never goin’ nowhere ’less you shares de fun.
lyrics of the song “Bess, You Is My Woman Now”, from the musical Porgy and Bess

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I've always considered Porgy and Bess an opera rather than a musical. –  Armen Ծիրունյան Oct 17 '13 at 13:43

Simply put, no. The conjugation of the verb "to be" in the Present tense is

I am
you are
he is
we are
you are
they are

You do hear I is in certain dialects, you will quite often hear it in Rap and Reggae music for example, but I would not recommend using it in conversation in most situations.

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In conversation literacy is irrelevant. When you're talking, it doesn't matter whether you can read, just like when you're walking, it doesn't matter whether you can drive a car. –  John Lawler Jun 2 '13 at 16:27
@JohnLawler fair enough. How would you then describe someone who does not know how to speak properly? Inarticulate means they cannot express themselves well and does not imply grammatical errors. –  terdon Jun 2 '13 at 17:17
It usually applies to people who can't read/write grammatically, and/or aren't familiar with literary works, but illiterate 2b: Violating prescribed standards of speech or writing. –  FumbleFingers Jun 2 '13 at 17:32
Why did you put "dialects" in quotation marks? IFAIK, I is is very common in AAVE, which certainly is a dialect without any need for quotation marks... –  Armen Ծիրունյան Jun 2 '13 at 19:05
"Is Far As I Knows". –  MετάEd Jun 3 '13 at 17:18

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