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?

  • what is the meaning of ain’t, anyways? Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 7:02

5 Answers 5


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.

  • 2
    Nice answer... :)
    – Skilldrick
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 20:10

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!


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.

  • "Low class people?" Please define. Commented Sep 11, 2010 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
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 8:11

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.
  • 1
    That is a wedding I want to go to.
    – KAE
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 21:09

I spent most of my life believing 'ain't' was just a colloquialism/dialict whatever but noticed a couple of years ago when reading a classic Victorian novel (I can't remember which as I read a lot of this type of literature - and it could actually be that I noticed it in more than one such novel) that characters portrayed as very respectable upper and middle class used 'ain't'. I noticed it because from a modern viewpoint it seemed quite jarring coming from them.

I will endeavour to find out in which novel or novels I saw this.

  • When you find the novel, please come back and edit your answer. It will better help the asker. :)
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 5:25

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