My dictionary reports that aren't is also an abbreviation for am not, when used in questions.

Is this use of aren't common? If it is common, are there any differences between the different English dialects?

Why aren't I being given a pay raise?


Yes, it is common. The little-seen "amn't" does occur in Irish and Scottish English.

  • 10
    +1 for something I didn't know. amn't I lucky Feb 3 '11 at 16:17
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    It's good to note that "ain't" originally meant the same thing as "amn't" before its meaning shifted to mean "is not" and was eventually banned from formal English. Since we need something to fill its gap and amn't never caught on we say "aren't" instead.
    – tankadillo
    Feb 3 '11 at 23:44

There is a good article on this at Wikipedia:

Amn't as a contraction of am not is known from 1618. As the "mn" combination of two nasal consonants is disfavored by many English speakers, the "m" of amn't began to be elided, reflected in writing with the new form an't. Aren't as a contraction for are not first appeared in 1675. In non-rhotic dialects, aren't also began to be represented by an't.

Lower down the page, there are the following sentences:

Aren't as a contraction for am not developed from one pronunciation of an't (which itself developed in part from amn't - see etymology of ain't for further discussion). In non-rhotic dialects, aren't and this pronunciation of an't are homonyms. For reasons that are unclear, the spelling aren't I began to replace an't I in the early part of the twentieth century […].


It's perfectly fine.

In the right dialect you'd also get away with "ain't" (which is the same for first, second and third person, singular and plural, conveniently). But it's widely (UK) considered a bit vulgar.

"..., am I not" tends to give extra stress.


Is it common? Not in my area. It would be considered snobbish to use it. To me, it's unnatural to use are with I.

I would never say: I aren't going to do it. Nor would I use it in a question: Aren't I right? Technically, it's correct but it makes my skin crawl.

Stick with I'm not and Am I not? ... However I'm also in a region where, as @ijw says, one can use ain't without angst.

  • 1
    I wouldn't say that aren't I is a case of using are with I. Rather it uses aren't as a contraction of am not (which is admittedly questionable). People who say Aren't I right? would (probably) never say Are I right?; they'd say Am I right? Jan 8 '12 at 23:46
  • @KeithThompson But it is a case of using are with I. Which is why so many hesitate and wonder about it. It's simply an artificial creation because someone writing a grammar guide somewhen in time took a disliking to amn't, ant, and ain't and they became "non-standard". I don't use it. It feels wrong, fake, and snobbish. I don't recommend it either.
    – AnWulf
    Jan 9 '12 at 10:15
  • 3
    So, you're proposing that "Am I not right?" is the less snobbish variant? May 30 '17 at 23:14

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