Aren't I? Sit an exam? Timetable?

Cracker Jack

Senior Member
I would like to hear from native British and American speakers regarding the above-mentioned

1. Aren't I? - I often hear this from British individuals. Is this slang or colloquial expression of what is supposed to be ''Am I not?'' From a grammatical point of view, this is grossly erroneous. I and are do not correspond to each other except in expressing wishes and desires = I wish I were...

2. Sit an exam - I never used this phrase before. In fact it's true that most exam are done sitting down. But practical tests like in athletics or workshops definitely aren't. I would rather use take an exam than sit an exam. Please enlighten me.

3. Timetable is a British equivalent for American schedule. But can it be also used as a verb? Example: I am scheduled for an interview tomorrow. Is it possible to say "I am timetabled for an interview tomorrow."

Thanks a lot.
 
  • Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Cracker Jack said:
    1. Aren't I? - I often hear this from British individuals. Is this slang or colloquial expression of what is supposed to be ''Am I not?'' From a grammatical point of view, this is grossly erroneous. I and are do not correspond to each other except in expressing wishes and desires = I wish I were...
    I'm British and I say 'aren't I?' 100% of the time the question arises, whether in speech or on paper, however formal. I could justify this by saying that it's not really a misapplication of 'are' in the first-person singular, but a reflection of how 'Amn't I?' is pronounced (and written), and so no more egregious than saying 'Won't I?' for 'Will I not?' I've never really been challenged on this and had no idea people might consider it incorrect. Maybe other people disagree.
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Cracker Jack said:
    2. Sit an exam - I never used this phrase before. In fact it's true that most exam are done sitting down. But practical tests like in athletics or workshops definitely aren't. I would rather use take an exam than sit an exam. Please enlighten me.
    Interesting point. I'd say that 'sit an exam' is one way of talking about the subject, but isn't required. In fact I think it's a little formal: most people would probably say 'I've got an exam tomorrow' rather 'I'm sitting an exam tomorrow' (or 'I'm sitting for an exam', as my OED tells me it can also be). 'Taking an exam' sounds just fine, too, especially, as you say, for non-written exams.
     

    Gordonedi

    Senior Member
    UK (Scotland) English
    Please see my comments :

    Cracker Jack said:
    I would like to hear from native British and American speakers regarding the above-mentioned

    1. Aren't I? - I often hear this from British individuals. Is this slang or colloquial expression of what is supposed to be ''Am I not?'' From a grammatical point of view, this is grossly erroneous. I and are do not correspond to each other except in expressing wishes and desires = I wish I were...
    This is not slang, but it is often used colloquially across the UK. In some parts of Scotland, there is an equivalent "amen't I", which is closer to the grammatically correct term, but I have no knowledge of how the word "are" became part of the contraction in place of "am".

    2. Sit an exam - I never used this phrase before. In fact it's true that most exam are done sitting down. But practical tests like in athletics or workshops definitely aren't. I would rather use take an exam than sit an exam. Please enlighten me.
    I believe that this term originates from when examinations were taken at "sittings", rather like meals. This is a further meaning of the word "sit", and has little to do with actually sitting down.

    3. Timetable is a British equivalent for American schedule. But can it be also used as a verb? Example: I am scheduled for an interview tomorrow. Is it possible to say "I am timetabled for an interview tomorrow."
    No. Timetable is not a verb. I would say "I am scheduled for an interview tomorrow" or "I am booked for an interview tomorrow".
    Thanks a lot.

    Gordonedi:)
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Cracker Jack said:
    3. Timetable is a British equivalent for American schedule. But can it be also used as a verb? Example: I am scheduled for an interview tomorrow. Is it possible to say "I am timetabled for an interview tomorrow."
    I was going to say no it can't be used as a verb, but then I checked in my OED and timetable is listed as a verb ('include in or arrange to a timetable; schedule'). Your example still sounds strange to me. I'd probably just use schedule in this case ('I am scheduled for an interview tomorrow'). Schedule is used in British English, after all, but it's a little different from a timetable:
    Timetable describes repeated events, those that are usually planned to take place at the same time each week (or month or whatever). Schools have timetables because you usually take the same classes at the same times each week. Trains are the same.
    Schedule describes one-off events. If you go to a conference or a one-week training course, say, you receive a schedule of when things happen, since events are usually not repeated in this context.

    In your case, since your interview is a one-off, there's no reason not to use 'schedule'.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hello, you asked for the American perspective as well:
    1: Aren't I is used by Americans as well. (I'm here, aren't I?) It would be quite unusual for an American to say am I not?
    2: Americans do not sit exams. We take them. I think Canadians sit them, though. Edited: looks like they usually write them.
    3: I would be very surprised to hear I am timetabled, but as you observed, timetable is usually replaced with schedule in the US anyway.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Isotta said:
    I seem to remember that a Canadian usually writes an exam.

    Isotta.
    I think you are right. I did find "sit an exam" in a Canadian site with a quick search, but got many more results with "write an exam." Thanks!
     

    Cracker Jack

    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot aupick, gordonedi, kelly b and isotta. At least when it comes to this matter, there is no better authority than you native speakers. So now, I can proudly say ''Aren´t I?'' without batting an eyelash.

    I asked the question about sitting an exam because I read in an ad of a language school saying ''All prospective students with prior background will have to sit a diagnostic exam to determine their level.''

    Aupick is it ok to say in UK Timetable of Classes or simply Timetable? Also a list of fees can also be called Schedule of Fees.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Originally posted by KellyB
    Hello, you asked for the American perspective as well:
    1: Aren't I is used by Americans as well. (I'm here, aren't I?) It would be quite unusual for an American to say am I not?
    2: Americans do not sit exams. We take them. I think Canadians sit them, though. Edited: looks like they usually write them.
    3: I would be very surprised to hear I am timetabled, but as you observed, timetable is usually replaced with schedule in the US anyway.[/b]

    As you can guess, Cracker Jack, with expressions such as these, English speakers rarely come to a consensus, and when we do, it is a rare occurrence, indeed, even between speakers of a like ("AE" or "BE") language.

    I would and do say "am I not?" It is as natural and normal to me as others' use of "aren't I." In fact, I would say I interchange the two quite a bit. Of course, I was raised by an English teacher, so her influence may be coming into play here.

    As for "sit exams," while it is true I have not heard exact expression, I have heard "sit for" when used to describe the process of taking a very lengthy professional exam, such as the Bar Exam for future lawyers, and/or the Medical Board(s) for future doctors. In these instances, you might here someone say: "I have to sit for the Bar Exam next weekend," or "I have to sit for my Boards."

    I certainly agree that timetable / schedule are not used interchangeably in AE. We are very "scheduled" people, if not over-scheduled. I schedule an appointment as much as I have many appointments on my schedule. If I want to be very technical and talk about the specific book in which I keep my schedule (assuming it is a book and not one of the countless technological gadgets now available), I might say "schedule book," but never timetable. Timetable, or "times table" to most Americans, represents the multiplication tables we memorized in elementary math classes.

    The majority of us also pronounce schedule with a hard "k," as in "skedule," although in some regions, people use the softened "sh" sound.
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Cracker Jack said:
    is it ok to say in UK Timetable of Classes or simply Timetable? Also a list of fees can also be called Schedule of Fees.
    I think 'Timetable' on its own is fine. 'Timetable of Classes' is a bit heavy and unnecessary, since I'm sure the context will be clear.

    'Schedule of fees' is an interesting point. I'd forgotten that we also use schedule in this way (meaning a chart or table, I suppose). But apart from fees I wonder what else can be organised on a schedule?
     

    Gordonedi

    Senior Member
    UK (Scotland) English
    Aupick said:
    I think 'Timetable' on its own is fine. 'Timetable of Classes' is a bit heavy and unnecessary, since I'm sure the context will be clear.

    'Schedule of fees' is an interesting point. I'd forgotten that we also use schedule in this way (meaning a chart or table, I suppose). But apart from fees I wonder what else can be organised on a schedule?

    In the UK, large reports often have a schedule of attachments or a schedule of accompanying documents. :)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    In my experience, aren't I is the correct AE form, and ain't I the increasingly-acceptable colloquial. Grammarians are going to have to find something else, some day, to use as an example when answering the question "what the hell does solecism mean?"

    "Am I not" is not that uncommon, and at least when I use it I wouldn't say it was overly formal or "stuffy." But now that I think of it I never substitute it for the strongly interrogative "aren't I" (by strongly I mean something like "well aren't I?"). I use it in questions like "am I not on the starting lineup, then? If so, why aren't I?" (Yes I know "if so" is counterintuitive here, but I just can't hear myself saying "if not" to the coach-- that sort of thing will keep you off the starting lineup but permanently. In retrospect, I'm not sure "if so" is helping my cause any.)

    I'm surprised nobody challenged the bland assertion that "amn't I" is correct. Is there anyone who even remotely believes this is so? I didn't say go look it up! What do you believe, searching back over your own memory banks. Come on, have you ever heard "amn't I" come out of the mouth of a human being, in a statement that wasn't some kind of burlesque? Try even pronouncing it.
     

    Gordonedi

    Senior Member
    UK (Scotland) English
    foxfirebrand said:
    I'm surprised nobody challenged the bland assertion that "amn't I" is correct. Is there anyone who even remotely believes this is so? I didn't say go look it up! What do you believe, searching back over your own memory banks. Come on, have you ever heard "amn't I" come out of the mouth of a human being, in a statement that wasn't some kind of burlesque? Try even pronouncing it.

    I didn't assert that "amen't I" (my spelling) is correct. However, it is what I said as a child in this area of Scotland (before I left for many years' missionary work...) and I still hear it quite often in normal conversation - with human beings ! ;)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well, I won't crack wise about the Scots, as you don't know me for a proud Son of the Highlands myself, and might think any remarks about the taxonomy of animals who say "ament" were dead serious. Besides, not only was it a post other than yours where I saw "amn't," I misremembered what Aupick said about it, which had to do with aren't I being correct, not "amn't I." Funny thing too, cause I ain't ordinarily one to make errors like that.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Amn't I is alive and well here too.
    So, also, is a curious thing that I never really understood, "can't'n we" - which seems to mean the same as "can't we".
    Contracts have schedules - endless pages and pages of them.
     

    garryknight

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I'm pretty sure that "aren't I?" and "amn't I?" and various other phrases of this type are well on their way out, at least in the south of England. The youth round here (and for a large distance around here) only seem to use the tag questions "innit?" (for "isn't it?") and "is it?". For example:

    - I'm goin' roun' Britney's today.
    - Is it?
    - Yeah, we goin' shoppin', innit?
     

    Cracker Jack

    Senior Member
    It would be good to include the word ''amn't'' in the vocabulary. After all, there is even a contraction ''isn't.'' At least it would be more logical than aint. garryknoght, do the British people also use aint?
     

    Oven

    Senior Member
    Chile, Spanish,pseudo-English, lame portuguese and french
    So, what are we supposed to say? amn't I ? aren't I ? ain't I ? etc.....
     

    Oven

    Senior Member
    Chile, Spanish,pseudo-English, lame portuguese and french
    If I did...Would other people understand what I am saying because I have never heard such question tag before...not in spoken language...
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Hi Oven,

    I think you would be safest to choose from the following two:

    Aren't I? for more casual conversation

    Am I not? for more "formal" conversation

    Ain't I? :cross: is a definite no-no on BOTH sides of the pond unless you wish to be considered as crass and uneducated.

    You'll have to defer to the views of our BE friends with regards to Amn't. It is definitely not used in the US, and from the posts here, appears to be used only in select parts of the UK.
     

    Oven

    Senior Member
    Chile, Spanish,pseudo-English, lame portuguese and french
    I think I have RP influence so I have to follow briton's commands :eek: . I'll use aren't hence forth !
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Oven said:
    So, what are we supposed to say? amn't I ? aren't I ? ain't I ? etc.....
    I wonder... Do we really need to say any of these?
    I'm having another one of those brain paralysis moments.
    I can't hear myself saying any of them.
    I can't hear myself saying lots of "am I not"s.
    I know I don't add anything to statements where lots of people stick one of these on the end - unnecessarily.
    Does that allow me to avoid them?
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    panjandrum said:
    I wonder... Do we really need to say any of these?
    I'm having another one of those brain paralysis moments.
    I can't hear myself saying any of them.
    I can't hear myself saying lots of "am I not"s.
    I know I don't add anything to statements where lots of people stick one of these on the end - unnecessarily.
    Does that allow me to avoid them?

    I'm pretty sure you're allowed. There are things I can't hear in contracted form either, no matter how "correct."

    "If you prick us, don't we bleed?"

    I also can't hear the guy gritting his teeth and snarling "well do we, p-p-punk?"
     
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