The following phrase

I ain't got no money

Is it meant to be used for a past action (I didn't get no money) or is it used to mean (I don't get no money right now)?

What confuses me is the usage of got (past tense of get). I understand that ain't can be used ad a substitution of am not, did not, do not, is/are not, etc.

  • Here ain't is used to mean have not.
    – Anonym
    Jul 29, 2015 at 16:35
  • Present. ~"I do not have any money." The double negative is used here as an intensifier.
    – cmcf
    Jul 29, 2015 at 16:42
  • 1
    It's present tense, and I ain't got is an idiom with a special meaning: 'I don't have'. Past tense would be I didn't have no money; (ain't) got in the sense of '(don't) have' only works in the present tense. Jul 29, 2015 at 17:26
  • 3
    As others have noted, got is for possession, gotten is for reception. I ain't gotten no visits from the sheriff all month or I ain't gotten any help since the accident vs. I ain't got no ride no more or I ain't got six bits to my name.
    – choster
    Jul 29, 2015 at 19:29
  • Where did you get the idea that ain't can mean 'did not'? The closest usage to that would be I ain't done that, where ain't = 'have not'. Aug 7, 2015 at 13:33

4 Answers 4


The clause is in the present tense.

Although got is a past form of get, it is also

used for saying "have" in informal speech

  What you got there?
  You got to be careful what you say to him.


It means: I have no money.


"I ain't got no money" means "I don't have any money." It's spoken slang usage. You can check urbandictionary.com for explanation (type in "ain't got no"). Or this link "I ain't got no money" for longer explanation.

Also, the verb got here means "have." So the idea is that you don't have money, not that you are not getting money.


I agree with cmcf and I will add that in the UK "ain't" should really be used only for the present of the verbs "to be" and "to have" (negative, of course).


In your sentence "ain't" stands for "haven't", so your sentence is

  • I haven't got no money.

Grammatically "have got/ haven't got" is present perfect. But in BrE "have got" serves as a paraphrase for to have in the sense of to possess/to own.

If you have got a letter, the consequence is that you have a letter. That's the way how a grammatical perfect can develop the sense of a present tense.

Why a paraphrase for to have? In most cases " have" is shortened to 've. That is one sound, /v/. You can't stress it. Compare:

  • 1 Yes, I've a car, - 2 Yes, I've got a car.

In 2 you can give weight to the word got. In 1 you can't give weight to /v/.

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