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When I was reading the book Because of Winn-Dixie, on page 89 I found a paragraph as follows:

"Oh, lay off her," Dunlap said to Stevie. Then he turned to me. "He don't mean it," he said.

Can anybody tell me why the writer uses "don't" instead of "doesn't"?

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marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, RegDwigнt Jul 31 at 13:03

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

9  
Er, because the character said "don't" instead of "doesn't"? –  F.E. Jul 31 at 2:37
5  
'Cause I be a writer, and I write the dialog for how the character would say wot he be saying. –  F.E. Jul 31 at 2:39
    
Of course it is correct, but only when used in lyrics of American Country music. –  Blessed Geek Jul 31 at 2:59
    
Please search the site before asking. This has been covered before, many times over in fact, the canonical question being this one. With many quotes from all over the world. @BlessedGeek I didn't know the Beatles and Elton John were American country singers... –  RegDwigнt Jul 31 at 13:05

2 Answers 2

In a word, dialect. Same reason the author uses lay off her. The author is trying to capture how those particular characters would talk. (Some people talk like that some of the time; some don't.)

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No, "He don't mean it" is not correct. The grammatically correct form is "He doesn't mean it."

But many "uneducated" people say it that way, and Dunlap is supposed to be such a person, so the author has him speak like that.

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3  
What evidence can you provide for him not being uneducated, instead of it being a non-standard variety of English? –  curiousdannii Jul 31 at 6:16
    
Because if he was educated he would know to use "doesn't". "He do not mean it" is incorrect. "He does not mean it" is correct. 'Non-standard', as you say, is another way of saying incorrect (at least in the context of the grammar being questioned on this site). –  Chandra42 Jul 31 at 11:29
    
@Chandra42 sorry, that is circular reasoning, and utter nonsense. There are any number of places on the Internet that confuse "incorrect", "low register", "non-standard", "one-off slip of a tongue". This site is not one of them, and never was. "He don't mean it" is impeccable, perfectly grammatical English. That's why people say it in the first place. It is just not Standard English. Which is completely orthogonal to education. Many uneducated people speak Standard English, and many speakers of non-standard varieties are better educated than you and me combined. –  RegDwigнt Jul 31 at 13:13
    
@RegDwigнt sorry, that is circular reasoning, and utter nonsense. You're basically saying 'he do not mean it' is correct English by some individual choice. That is nonsense. We could argue that for absolutely anything. But it's just occurred to me that you're probably arguing the 'uneducated' bit and not the actual thrust of my response. The only lack in education is the bit where he should have been taught to build the sentence properly. He might be a physicist for all I care, that doesn't mean he's grammatically correct, which is the point of the question. –  Chandra42 Jul 31 at 16:49

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