Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Over 10 years ago saying "ain't" was discouraged but it was gaining momentum. What happened? Seems like it's still discouraged. Maybe in another 10 years?

share|improve this question
    
what is the meaning of ain’t, anyways? –  Rakesh Juyal Aug 18 '10 at 7:02
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

After centuries of being denigrated by schoolmarms the word “ain’t” has taken up a unusual position in the English language.

It is a word that almost embodies the essence of informality in language. Using it means that you consider the discourse context to be one of extreme informality, or when using it in a context which is already quite formal, it serves to lighten the mood or to inject a degree of folksiness.

share|improve this answer
2  
Nice answer... :) –  Skilldrick Aug 13 '10 at 20:10
add comment

I would never use "ain't" in any kind of formal communication, written or spoken.

The only time I could see myself using this would be when directly quoting someone else, or when attempting to mimic informal spoken use in something like a message to a friend. For example,

You want me to give you all my beer? That ain't gonna happen, boy!

share|improve this answer
add comment

The word ain't has been used and understood long enough to be accepted by the standards of any dictionary, but has not because of sobbery. Low class people use it and therefore it is rejected. It is used for are not and am not.

share|improve this answer
    
"Low class people?" Please define. –  MikeSchinkel Sep 11 '10 at 22:34
    
"It ain't so" is used by Mark Twain, who is a literary figure, and it means "is not" in this case. –  Ron Maimon Mar 10 '12 at 8:11
add comment

I think it will be alright to use "ain't" when you get a wedding invitation that has an RSVP card that has as the choices:

 [ ] I will be there.
 [ ] I and a guest will be there.
 [ ] I ain't coming.
share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.