I wish to know the difference between "ain't" and "isn't" and since I'm not a speaker of english as first language, I can't tell.

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    They mean the same thing; ain't is never used in formal or even semi-formal settings. – Dan Bron May 7 '15 at 14:07
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    You isn't nothin' but a hound dog??? – Peter Shor May 7 '15 at 14:30
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    Related: When did “ain't” become slang? – user66974 May 7 '15 at 14:46
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    @ADG: that was my point; you can't always replace ain't by isn't. Maybe you didn't recognize that "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog" is a line from a famous song. – Peter Shor May 7 '15 at 16:47
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    @PeterShor In my neck of the woods, "ain't" is interchangeable with both "isn't" and "aren't". It's less a direct change from isn't and more a general negation of "to be". – VampDuc May 7 '15 at 17:04

In American English, "isn't" is the standard contraction of "is not," and "ain't" is a nonstandard, dialectal contraction of "is not" and and sometimes "are not" and "am not" (He ain't, They ain't, You ain't, I ain't). In the U.S., it's most common in Southern speech, but it wouldn't be accepted in formal writing in any region unless the writer was quoting someone or deliberately striving for a vernacular tone.

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    Isn't also a contraction of 'has not'? "I ain't got nobody." "I ain't got a dime." – David Garner May 7 '15 at 14:35
  • That's true. I've heard "He ain't been here lately" and similar constructions. – Nicole May 7 '15 at 14:37
  • would it matter if I use it in text with countries speaking english not as their first languages? – RE60K May 7 '15 at 15:50
  • @DavidGarner yes, there is hain't. It isn't used very often, except in certain southern dialects. It is very rarely used elsewhere. – Jason Hutchinson May 7 '15 at 16:05
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    @JasonHutchinson, I've never seen it spelt with an H, tho logically there was one that got dropped. Just remembered that in 'King of the Road', Roger Miller repeats "Ain't got no cigarettes." – David Garner May 7 '15 at 19:41

"Isn't" is a contraction of "is not".

"Ain't" is a vernacular expression of "isn't", and although it carries the equivalent meaning, it is not part of Standard English.

  • @ pyrAmider, True for English English; you might use Ain't in quotation, or to show dated slang as in the TV series 'It Ain't Half Hot, Mum.' Or to indicate Mockney attitude to a situation. Would you agree? But on all other occasions Isn't is normal informal for Is not. – Hugh May 7 '15 at 14:24

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