Ain't

Aint
The word ain't is a contraction for am not, is not, are not, has not, and have not in the common English language vernacular.wikipedia
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African-American Vernacular English

Ebonicsjiveblack vernacular
Ain't meaning didn't is widely considered a feature unique to African American Vernacular English, although it can be found in some dialects of Caribbean English as well.
Use of ain't as a general negative indicator. As in other dialects, it can be used where most other dialects would use am not, isn't, aren't, haven't, and hasn't. However, in marked contrast to other varieties of English in the US, some speakers of AAVE also use ain't instead of don't, doesn't, or didn't (e.g., I ain't know that). Ain't had its origins in common English but became increasingly stigmatized since the 19th century. See also amn't.

Eliza Doolittle

ElizaEliza CairdEliza Dolittle
A notable exponent of the term is Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion; "I ain't done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman" said Doolittle.
Her Cockney dialect includes words that are common among working class Londoners, such as ain't; "I ain't done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman" said Doolittle.

Tag question

tag questionsquestion tagtag-question
Standard dialects that regard ain't as non-standard often substitute aren't for am not in tag questions (e.g., "I'm doing okay, aren't I?"), while leaving the "amn't gap" open in declarative statements.
nonstandard dialects: Clever, ain't I?

English auxiliaries and contractions

auxiliary verbcontractedauxiliaries
Linguistically, ain't is formed by the same rule that English speakers use to form aren't and other contractions of auxiliary verbs.
The contraction ain't may stand for am not, among its other uses. For details see the next section, and the separate article on ain't.

Cockney

cockney accentCockney EnglishCockney dialect
A notable exponent of the term is Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion; "I ain't done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman" said Doolittle. In the nineteenth century, ain't was often used by writers to denote regional dialects such as Cockney English.
Use of ain't

Contraction (grammar)

contractioncontractionscontracted
The word ain't is a contraction for am not, is not, are not, has not, and have not in the common English language vernacular.

Vernacular

vernacular languagevernacular languagesvernacularization
The word ain't is a contraction for am not, is not, are not, has not, and have not in the common English language vernacular.

Antecedent (grammar)

antecedentantecedentsgrammatical antecedent
Ain't has several antecedents in English, corresponding to the various forms of to be not and to have not that ain't contracts.

Elision

elidedelidedeletion
As the "mn" combination of two nasal consonants is disfavoured by many English speakers, the "m" of amn't began to be elided, reflected in writing with the new form an't.

Rhoticity in English

non-rhoticrhoticnon-rhoticity
In non-rhotic dialects, aren't lost its "r" sound, and began to be pronounced as an't.

Restoration (England)

Restorationrestoration of the monarchythe Restoration
An't first appears in print in the work of English Restoration playwrights.

William Congreve

CongreveHell hath no fury like a woman scornedMr. William Congreve
In 1695 an't was used as a contraction of "am not", in William Congreve's play Love for Love: "I can hear you farther off, I an't deaf".

John Vanbrugh

Sir John VanbrughVanbrughJohn Vanburgh
But as early as 1696 Sir John Vanbrugh uses an't to mean "are not" in The Relapse: "Hark thee shoemaker! These shoes an't ugly, but they don't fit me".

Jonathan Swift

SwiftSwiftianDean Swift
Jonathan Swift used an't to mean is not in Letter 19 of his Journal to Stella (1710–13): It an't my fault, 'tis Patrick's fault; pray now don't blame Presto.

A Journal to Stella

Journal to Stella
Jonathan Swift used an't to mean is not in Letter 19 of his Journal to Stella (1710–13): It an't my fault, 'tis Patrick's fault; pray now don't blame Presto.

Vowel length

shortlonglong vowel
An't with a long "a" sound began to be written as ain't, which first appears in writing in 1749.

Charles Dickens

DickensDickensianDickens, Charles
An't and ain't coexisted as written forms well into the nineteenth century—Charles Dickens used the terms interchangeably, as in Chapter 13, Book the Second of Little Dorrit (1857): "'I guessed it was you, Mr Pancks", said she, 'for it's quite your regular night; ain't it? ... An't it gratifying, Mr Pancks, though; really?'". In the English lawyer William Hickey's memoirs (1808–1810), ain't appears as a contraction of aren't; "thank God we're all alive, ain't we..."

Little Dorrit

Amy Dorriteponymous bookLittle Dorrit (1855–1857)
An't and ain't coexisted as written forms well into the nineteenth century—Charles Dickens used the terms interchangeably, as in Chapter 13, Book the Second of Little Dorrit (1857): "'I guessed it was you, Mr Pancks", said she, 'for it's quite your regular night; ain't it? ... An't it gratifying, Mr Pancks, though; really?'". In the English lawyer William Hickey's memoirs (1808–1810), ain't appears as a contraction of aren't; "thank God we're all alive, ain't we..."

William Hickey (memoirist)

William Hickey
An't and ain't coexisted as written forms well into the nineteenth century—Charles Dickens used the terms interchangeably, as in Chapter 13, Book the Second of Little Dorrit (1857): "'I guessed it was you, Mr Pancks", said she, 'for it's quite your regular night; ain't it? ... An't it gratifying, Mr Pancks, though; really?'". In the English lawyer William Hickey's memoirs (1808–1810), ain't appears as a contraction of aren't; "thank God we're all alive, ain't we..."

The Country Wife

The Country GirlLust
Han't appeared in the work of English Restoration playwrights, as in The Country Wife (1675) by William Wycherley: Gentlemen and Ladies, han't you all heard the late sad report / of poor Mr. Horner. Much like an't, han't was sometimes pronounced with a long "a", yielding hain't. With H-dropping, the "h" of han't or hain't gradually disappeared in most dialects, and became ain't.

William Wycherley

WycherleyWycherlyWilliam Wycherly
Han't appeared in the work of English Restoration playwrights, as in The Country Wife (1675) by William Wycherley: Gentlemen and Ladies, han't you all heard the late sad report / of poor Mr. Horner. Much like an't, han't was sometimes pronounced with a long "a", yielding hain't. With H-dropping, the "h" of han't or hain't gradually disappeared in most dialects, and became ain't.

H-dropping

h''-droppingdroppedh-adding
Han't appeared in the work of English Restoration playwrights, as in The Country Wife (1675) by William Wycherley: Gentlemen and Ladies, han't you all heard the late sad report / of poor Mr. Horner. Much like an't, han't was sometimes pronounced with a long "a", yielding hain't. With H-dropping, the "h" of han't or hain't gradually disappeared in most dialects, and became ain't.

Martin Chuzzlewit

The Life and Adventures of Martin ChuzzlewitMontague Tigg/Tigg MontagueMr Pecksniff
Why I ain't got nobody here to strike.... Charles Dickens likewise used ain't to mean haven't in Chapter 28 of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844): "You ain't got nothing to cry for, bless you! He's righter than a trivet!"''

Our Mutual Friend

a novelJohn Harmonthe book
Like with an't, han't and ain't were found together late into the nineteenth century, as in Chapter 12 of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend: "'Well, have you finished?' asked the strange man. 'No,' said Riderhood, 'I ain't'....'You sir! You han't said what you want of me.'"

Caribbean English

EnglishCaribbeanEnglish for the Caribbean
Ain't meaning didn't is widely considered a feature unique to African American Vernacular English, although it can be found in some dialects of Caribbean English as well.