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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.

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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
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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
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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
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@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
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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
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"Is Far As I Knows". –  MετάEd Jun 3 '13 at 17:18

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