“Do we have to read a book this year?” Any fool who loves literature cringes at the expression from a student who doesn’t want to read.
” ‘Ain’t’ ain’t in the dictionary.”
Ever hear that one? The colloquial phrase “ain’t” is typically a contracted variation of “am/is/are/was/were not”.
We commonly hear that “ain’t” is improper, is bad grammar, is a sign of ignorance. Is this true? And what does the use of “ain’t” say about us?
Conventionally, many people suppose that it is. After all, in none of the preceding forms of “to be” that ends in the word combination “ain”. Yet somehow we have ain’t. This leaves us with the question, “how did this develop?”
“I didn’t do nothing,” is a double negative. The words didn’t and nothing, both being negative, create a sentence in which there are two negatives, when it is otherwise assumed that the speaker meant to enforce a single negation: Nothing was done.
Is this an error? Is this bad grammar?