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I want to know firstly if it's grammatically correct to start a declarative sentence with "Am". For example:

Am excited about the game today.

Secondly, if it is grammatically incorrect, then I wanted to ask how much "head room" there is for the above usage. I can't think of an example now, nor find one here at english.stackexchange. However I imagine there are usages of the english language that grammatically are illegal, yet have somehow become accepted as colloquial or idiomatic perhaps.

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You're probably hearing people say I'm, with an accent that makes the "I" part inaudible to you. I'm is vastly more common in speech than am. That's in speech. In writing, everything depends on the context, and everybody makes up their own rules for infrml wrtng. –  John Lawler Apr 4 '13 at 14:19

7 Answers 7

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Some languages are subject-drop languages, but English is considered a subject-obligatory language. The sentence as it stands is non standard. It's the type of telegraphic language you might see in a text message.

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+1 @Brett. Ah interesting, I din't know about that "subject-obligatory" rule. I think that's the clincher! –  andy Feb 17 '12 at 0:57
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Also social networking sites, forums, etc., normally "auto-preface" every comment with the username. So when I see FumbleFingers appearing on a chat log in front of whatever I type, it looks "grammatical" to omit "I", switch to third person, and enter a comment like thinks the moon is made of green cheese. –  FumbleFingers Feb 17 '12 at 1:05
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Never implied? No. Not true. –  Robusto Feb 17 '12 at 2:33
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@Robusto: What are you referring to? –  Brett Reynolds Feb 17 '12 at 2:47
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@BrettReynolds: Don't know? –  Robusto Feb 17 '12 at 3:56

There is a style of English speaking which drops subject pronouns, which I associate (perhaps wrongly) with Colonel Blimp-type figures. Something like:

Went up to town this morning. Met Caruthers at the club. Just got back from Africa. Ate a well lubricated lunch together for old times' sake. Am now coming home by train.

It is not standard English, and is prone to ambiguity. But it exists.

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+1 ah ha! interesting. I'm not very grammatically knowledgable and so didn't pick up that it was all about the dropping of the subject pronoun. So with that now established, I guess starting a sentence with "Am..." is as acceptable as starting one with "Went...". However I'd say "Am..." is a little different no as there is no ambiguity? –  andy Feb 17 '12 at 1:07
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@andy: I would seriously suggest you just ignore this style. As Henry says, it's non-standard. Using it most likely won't give people the impression you have extensive knowledge of English and can fluently use all variations - it'll make them think you haven't been well taught. –  FumbleFingers Feb 17 '12 at 3:02
    
@FumbleFingers: +1 cool, thanks fumble –  andy Feb 17 '12 at 10:44
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"You're late!" ... "Am not!" –  GEdgar Aug 14 '12 at 18:38

I think you need to say "I am...." or your sentence is missing a subject. In other languages, such as Greek, you might say "Ego..... " but that translates to "I am;" in that case there is an understood first-person subject caused by the conjugation of the verb "to be."

This is not, however, acceptable in English.

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+1 @ncmathsadist: hey, yeah I understand "I am" is the correct form, but was wondering on the acceptance of "Am". As you say, in greek "Ego..." is accepted because there is an understood first-person subject. However, wouldn't you say that "Am..." also suggests a clear first-person subject? –  andy Feb 17 '12 at 0:54
    
But, according to standard English usage, you are omitting the subject. The "am" is a verb in the predicate. –  ncmathsadist Feb 17 '12 at 1:48
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Ego doesn't mean I am by the way. Ego just means I in both Greek and Latin. Ego eimi is I am in Greek, and sum is I am in Latin (sum, es, est, sumus, estis, sunt). –  Phoenix Feb 17 '12 at 2:37

I'm not sure in what context you're seeing people use this, but I would guess that it's internet or texting related. If so, then it's just typical modern-day internet prose (i.e. the continued downward spiral of the English language).

Technically, it is not grammatically correct. A sentence should have a subject and a verb (at least that was how I was taught). I certainly wouldn't use it in any formal writing.

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okay, that actually makes sense because i have not come across it in any formal writing. it is mostly internet and texting related –  Śśòzī ɱīçhæł Apr 4 '13 at 5:48

It’s quite normal to drop the subject pronoun in contexts where brevity is important. It is certainly a practice found in emails and texting, but it was previously found in their predecessor, the telegram, and many people drop the subject pronoun when taking notes. It is also dropped in quite formal prose to avoid repetition, as in, for example, I went to New York last week and am going again tomorrow. It is a form of ellipsis, and should not be considered ungrammatical.

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Scottish English has a common replacement Am for I am:

Am going to be late tonight.

This can be compared to the contraction of the negative form, which doesn't drop the I:

I amn't going to be late tonight.

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I noticed that on some dating sites females begin their sentences with "Am". I also found out the hard way that most of them were scammers and probably from another country that doesn't know how to use "I". Please use I in front or the other acceptable way. "Am I". Am I not right?

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