I've been taught to say "I am" and "I aren't", but that doesn't make any sense to me. I think it should have been "I amn't" as am+not=amn't, but why isn't it?

  • 4
    "I aren't" is wrong. Who taught you to say this? You should say "I'm not." Jul 20 '15 at 20:58
  • I think this is related. The short version is it seems like amn't was changed to ain't for pronunciation reasons, which was ultimately deigned "2 crood" for polite discussion..Am seems like the only helping verb without a valid not contraction as a result...
    – Tonepoet
    Jul 20 '15 at 21:18
  • In some variants of English (particularly Irish English), amn’t is in fact quite commonly heard. In most variants, though, it's not found at all. @chaslyfromUK That is not true. Aren’t is an accepted contraction of am not. Just like there's a difference (in form, if not in meaning) between he’s not and he isn’t, there’s a difference between I’m not and I aren’t. Jul 20 '15 at 21:25
  • @Tonepoet Not only related, but actually an exact duplicate. Jul 20 '15 at 21:29
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: But in all dialects I know of that use "aren't" for the first-person singular, its use is restricted to questions with inversion: we'd see "Aren't I" but never "I aren't."
    – herisson
    Jul 21 '15 at 4:30

To contract "I am not" to 2 syllables, there are two alternatives: either combine "am" with "I", or "am" with "not". If the latter were adopted, "I amn't" would indeed be a reasonable choice. For whatever reason, though, the former has become the norm, producing "I'm not" as the standard contraction (and definitely not "I are not". "Are" is used with second person singular and plural, 1st person plural, and 3rd person plural. It is not used with 1st person singular.)

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