Ain’t: you’ve heard people using this word – and you might even have seen it written down – but you’re not really sure what it means or how to use it. Well, read on and you won’t go wrong!
Here’s the short explanation:
ain’t = am not / isn’t / aren’t
ain’t = haven’t / hasn’t
And here’s more detail:
Ain’t exists in the same form for all persons:
he / she / it ain’t
You can basically use it any time when you would normally use am not / isn’t / aren’t or haven’t / hasn’t:
We ain’t finished yet. = We aren’t finished yet. OR We haven’t finished yet.
Ain’t you finished yet? = Aren’t you finished yet? OR Haven’t you finished yet?
You ain’t gonna be finished on time. = You aren’t going to be finished on time.
(More on gonna in a future post!)
Ain’t also exists in some fixed expressions, for example:
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. = If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
(Yes, this fixed expression does contain a grammatical error – broke instead of broken!)
And there even used to be a comedy TV show in Britain with ain’t in the title:
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum
Ain’t only exists as a contraction – there is no full form. Contractions are informal; full forms are formal, so you can deduce from this that ain’t must be a pretty informal word. In fact, it is extremely informal – use it with your friends, maybe post it on social media, but definitely don’t write it in an academic assignment for university!
So, the next time you’re using English in a very informal situation, try using ain’t. There ain’t nothing stopping you!