Tag question - amn't I? - aren't I? - ain't I? - am I not?

Rupert J. Walker

New Member
Chile - English
In an English grammar textbook the following appears:
Verbs am, are and is
Negatives
Full Form Short Form Questions
I am not late I'm not late Aren't I late?

My belief is that the question should be "Am I not late". Which is correct?.
Rupert J. Walker
 
  • el alabamiano

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Rupert J. Walker said:
    In an English grammar textbook the following appears:
    Verbs am, are and is
    Negatives
    Full Form Short Form Questions
    I am not late I'm not late Aren't I late?

    My belief is that the question should be "Am I not late". Which is correct?.
    Rupert J. Walker
    'am not' is normally contracted to 'aren't' only in questions.

    Aren't I late?
    I'm not late, aren't I?
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I have to disagree with alabamiano. I have never heard nor read "I'm not late, aren't I?" No, no. It should be "I'm not late, am I?"
    I am not late.
    Am I not late?
    Aren't I late? is also correct, but I would use "Am I late? Yes, you are".
     

    el alabamiano

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    jacinta said:
    I have to disagree with alabamiano. I have never heard nor read "I'm not late, aren't I?" No, no. It should be "I'm not late, am I?"
    I am not late.
    Am I not late?
    Aren't I late? is also correct, but I would use "Am I late? Yes, you are".
    I did a double-take after reading your message and realizing my mistake. Whatever I was thinking of at the moment, it certainly wasn't English. Thanks for pointing it out!
     

    lasirena

    Senior Member
    US English
    maybe you were thinking, "I'm late, aren't I?" I've said that before, even if it's incorrect. Is it supposed to be "I'm late, am I not?"?
     

    coc

    Banned
    Argentina.Spanish
    Well, you can always say "Amn´t I late?". "Amn´t" is not so widely spread nowadays, but still correct. "Aren´t I" has a certain percentage of acceptance, but the correct for is "amn´t I...?"
    Coc
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Well, I suppose we should lay this to rest, but I just had to write once more. Amn't I??
    Maybe somewhere long ago this was correct, but not now. Here's a more clear picture of this structure. When you are questioning yourself, you use opposite structures: negative + postive = I'm not late, am I?
    positive + negative = I'm late, aren't I?

    And yes, you could say I'm late, am I not? but this is formal and not usual in everyday speech.
    Okeedoke?
     

    Mary Solari

    Senior Member
    Argentine living in Spain Spanish
    I'm late, am I not? sounds like Mary Poppins. In fact, I think she uses it in the film.

    I'm late, aren't I? is the common formula, the same as Aren't I late?
     

    coc

    Banned
    Argentina.Spanish
    Well, the person asking for help did not specify if he is talking about written or colloquial language. Of course if you say "I'm late, am I not?" you tend to sound like Mary Poppins, but in written language you are certainly going to find such things.
    I´ve heard only "aren´t I" from English speaking colleagues, and also when I lived in Ireland, but, even though "amn´t I" does not turn up any longer in spoken English, the Heritage dictionary still considers it correct, and actually "amn´t" was still available somewhere in my brain.
    Reread the original message, the question is not about the construction "I am not late, am I?" (negative followed by positive and positive by negative). He is asking wether "am I not" or "aren´t I" is the correct one.
    Coc
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The correct form is "am I not." The verb needs to agree with the subject, so "aren't I" is certainly incorrect. Because "amn't I" sounds awkward, the best choice is "am I not," which is less awkward. It's basically the best of three evils.
     

    Delirium

    Member
    Panama, Spanish
    I agree with Jacinta and Mary. "Aren't I" is not incorrect, in the sense that it is widely used. I raised this question (well, the question arose within someone else's question) in a translation website, and many native English speakers pointed out that the common form is "Aren't I". "Am I not" is correct, but not used in a less formal context. (Of course, it IS correct, and it IS used formally, or in a more academic context, perhaps?)

    I have never seen "Amn't I?" (I'm not saying it does not exist, I just have never seen it), and it does seem very awkward to me to pronounce. Then again, English is not my native language :)

    ~*Tess*~
     

    Delirium

    Member
    Panama, Spanish
    coc said:
    You can see it in any dictionary.
    Awkward to pronounce? It´s very plain and straightforward to pronounce!
    Coc

    1) Like I said: English is not my first language.
    2) But even if it were, here's a quote from the article mentioned above:

    English doesn't like two nasal consonants like "m" and "n" together

    If I pronounce it "am not I", I'm not making any contraction at all, I'm just spelling the words out, so to speak.

    As for it being on any dictionary: it's not in my Larousse, neither in my Oxford's nor in my Merriam-Webster's A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English.

    English is a language of sounds, to be heard, rather than symbols, to be seen, as opposed to Spanish. At least that's what my Linguistics professor used to tell us.

    *sigh* ...but what do I know?

    ~*Tess*~
     

    coc

    Banned
    Argentina.Spanish
    1) Like I said: English is not my first language.

    Ok, cool it down pal, it´s nothing personal. English isn´t my first language either.

    2) But even if it were, here's a quote from the article mentioned above:

    English doesn't like two nasal consonants like "m" and "n" together

    Sad enough, but "amn´t I" is part of the language, and that´s all I wanted to say.


    If I pronounce it "am not I", I'm not making any contraction at all, I'm just spelling the words out, so to speak.

    Of course, but if you pronounce "amn´t I" you are indeed contracting. And by using the contraction you are not saying "am not I?" but "Am I not?" instead.



    As for it being on any dictionary: it's not in my Larousse, neither in my Oxford's nor in my Merriam-Webster's A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English.

    You might try the Heritage Dictionary of the English language, I found some notes for "usage" under "ain´t". You first look up the contraction "aren´t", which is indeed included in the dictionary, and it will send you to "ain´t", where you are going to find: usage of "aren´t", "ain´t" and "amn´t", with the corresponding percentages of acceptance according to each speech situation. It just takes a little more investigation than just looking up "amn´t" straight away. So, and according to this, English seems to accept two nasal consonants together, like in "amnesia" for instance.

    English is a language of sounds, to be heard, rather than symbols, to be seen, as opposed to Spanish. At least that's what my Linguistics professor used to tell us.[/QUOTE
    ]*sigh* ...but what do I know?

    I honestly do not know what your teacher means, since spoken Spanish is a language of sounds, like any other. Could you explain a little bit what he means?
    What do you do now? I honestly don´t know. I´d say you take it easy, this is a just a conversation topic, nothing personal.
    Coc
     

    Marcela

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Río de la Plata
    Hey hispanos, why don't we simplify matters and adopt:

    I'm not late, no?
    I'm late, no?
    We aren't ...., no?

    Nice idea, no?

    Marcela
     

    adremd

    Senior Member
    USA
    Just a question wondering if anyone knows why this is the way it is....

    Ok, so we can say, "I am lucky!" or even "Am I not lucky"? But how is it possible to say, "Aren't I lucky"? or is this just flat out wrong. Is it an ellipsis of some sort? Is the contraction of am + not --> aren't, too?
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    adremd said:
    Just a question wondering if anyone knows why this is the way it is....

    Ok, so we can say, "I am lucky!" or even "Am I not lucky"? But how is it possible to say, "Aren't I lucky"? or is this just flat out wrong. Is it an ellipsis of some sort? Is the contraction of am + not --> aren't, too?
    I have no idea how it came to be, but it is perfectly accepted in AE.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    I suspect it's because amn't I is difficult to spit out. :) In effect, aren't has become the contraction of am not as well as are not.

    Here is Dr. Language's take on the matter.

    Elizabeth
     

    adremd

    Senior Member
    USA
    TrentinaNE said:
    I suspect it's because amn't I is difficult to spit out. :) In effect, aren't has become the contraction of am not as well as are not.

    Here is Dr. Language's take on the matter.

    Elizabeth
    Wow, great link, trentina!! I can't believe they say "amn't" in Scotland/Ireland. LOL.
     
    'Aren't I lucky?' is totally acceptable to me. If you were to put an inflection on the word 'lucky' then I would feel invited to give an opinion, but if you were not to use the inflection and say the phrase in a more confident manner then I would presume that you were making a statement by way of a rhetorical question.
     

    adremd

    Senior Member
    USA
    John Woodrow said:
    'Aren't I lucky?' is totally acceptable to me. If you were to put an inflection on the word 'lucky' then I would feel invited to give an opinion, but if you were not to use the inflection and say the phrase in a more confident manner then I would presume that you were making a statement by way of a rhetorical question.
    Yeah, you're right, John. It could be question or exclamation.

    But it's like you can say:
    "Are you not lucky"!? and "Aren't you lucky"?!
    "Is s/he not lucky"?! and "Isn't s/he lucky"!?

    "Am I not lucky"?!!? but you can only say "Aren't I lucky"?!?!


    But the link clears all that up... it just disappeared over time it seems.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    adremd said:
    Wow, great link, trentina!! I can't believe they say "amn't" in Scotland/Ireland. LOL.
    ~chuckle~
    Sure isn't it great to be the last bastion of common sense.
    Would you say "I are"?
    Hell no.
    So why doesn't it hurt your brain to say "I aren't"?

    Amn't I is a perfectly logical and useful addition for those who feel the need to add tag questions to their sentences.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Amn't I is used a lot, but it marks the speaker as someone who has not yet found out that this usage is not accepted in writing and is considered eccentric or illiterate by many.
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Please tell me which is correct?
    1. I'm not late, aren't I ?
    2. I'm not late, are I ?
    3. I'm late, aren't I ?
     

    systema encephale

    Senior Member
    Italian
    mimi2 said:
    Please tell me which is correct?
    1. I'm not late, aren't I ?
    2. I'm not late, are I ?
    3. I'm late, aren't I ?
    I'd say 1. and 2. are wrong, the correct form is

    I'm not late, am I?

    Regarding form n. 3. I don't know, you'd better wait for a native.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I agree with systema encephale that 1 and 2 are wrong, and that I would say "I'm not late, am I?"
    I would use "I'm late, amn't I?" but would have heard "I'm late, aren't I?" often enough to not know which is 'correct', but I'm not going to change! At 55 I'm too old, amn't I! ;) :D
     

    cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    N.3 is correct.

    I wouldn't have been able to tell you why, except that you can not say contract "am not" and aren't I is what you hear... however, I found this expert to back up my gut feeling:

    Michael Swan: "Practical English Usage" Second Edition
    "'Am not' is normally only contracted in questions, to 'aren't'"
    "The question tag for 'I am' is 'aren't I'?: 'I'm late, aren't I?'"



    (I've never heard "amn't I" -- perhaps that is Irish usage?)
     

    joeinsa

    Member
    El Salvador, spanish
    :) Hi everybody !

    Well,I Would like to know if this sentence is correct, and why , if it so. "I'm still here aren't I " , why " aren't " in the end, I Know it souds good saying it but I was told that is used " I'm still here am I not.

    I don't get it :confused:
     

    sbaustin

    New Member
    English / USA
    That sentence sounds fine either way. If you remove the contraction (aren't I) you would say exactly what you wrote, "I'm still here am I not" or "I am still here am I not." though I would say, "I'm still here" as the second part is kind of redundant but could be used for emphasis.

    Not sure if I answered your question.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I know it sounds peculiar, but "aren't I" is a correct and natural tag-question in spoken English! The expression "am I not" is also acceptable, but quite formal and probably used more in written than in spoken English.

    By the way, There is usually a comma before a tag question: "I'm still here, aren't I?" "He isn't going, is he?" etc.
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    And I think this very topic has been discussed before. If you wish, you can search the forums with the tool on the top bar.
    Good hunting!

    erm... after noticing that I couldn't find "aren't I?" readily, I searched for "tag question" and found this. Hope it helps.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    As a well-educated, native speaker of English (BE) I can assure you that aren't I is perfectly normal BE.

    The question tag for I am is aren't I?: I'm late, aren't I?

    This site agrees with me:
    http://www.english-zone.com/grammar/tags01.html

    I cannot recall seeing amn't I written in any recently published book, magazine or newspaper, and I have never heard anyone say it.

    Back in 1947 Eric Partridge in Usage and Abusage suggested a'm't I, but that is the only place I have seen it.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    I've never heard "amn't" in spoken English here in Canada.


    Just say "aren't I", it may not logically make sense, but people say it. It is accepted, and therefore "correct".
     

    boonognog

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Although ain't is now regarded as non-standard, this is a result of an antagonistic attitude toward this word that developed during the 19th century. From the American Heritage Dictionary:

    In fact, ain't arose at the tail end of an era that saw the introduction of a number of our most common contractions, including don't and won't. But while don't and won't eventually became accepted at all levels of speech and writing, ain't was to receive a barrage of criticism in the 19th century for having no set sequence of words from which it can be contracted and for being a “vulgarism,” that is, a term used by the lower classes, although an't at least had been originally used by the upper classes as well. At the same time ain't's uses were multiplying to include has not, have not, and is not, by influence of forms like ha'n't and i'n't. It may be that these extended uses helped fuel the negative reaction.

    Complete Usage Note is available at the above link.
     

    herrkeinname

    Senior Member
    Polish
    We can say:

    I'm rigt, ain't I/am I not/aren't I?
    There is a small difference between all the options, but they are all correct for certain.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Forms such as "aren't I" aren't so surprising. It's only relatively recently with the high levels of literacy and immediacy of communication that we see such conformity of usage on what is "right" and what is "wrong". We only find "aren't I" surprising because "I am" is the accepted positive form.

    I have heard something that sounds to me like "amt I" from our northern English cousins.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    timpeac, if you listen very closely next time you'll hear the 'n' in there, it's "amn't I" —> pronounced ahmen-tie - and short for "am not I".
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    herrkeinname said:
    We can say:

    I'm right, ain't I/am I not/aren't I?
    There is a small difference between all the options, but they are all correct for certain.

    Ain't is not Standard English.
     
    Hi,
    I've heard many Scottish kids saying "I amn't" :

    Are "I amn't" instead of "I'm not" and "amn't I?" instead of "aren't I?" correct in standard English or are they just typically Scottish and maybe Irish ?
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I've never heard that in the US except from very young children trying to figure out the rules of grammar.

    Ain't sounds pretty similar, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if the origin were the same.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Amn't I? is regularly heard here.

    A very good previous thread, Aren't I ? included further discussion on this form, and even more links.
    It also discusses ain't I.

    Surely aren't I can't be correct?
    I are right, aren't I?:eek:
    I am right, amn't I?:)
    Take your pick, and explain :D
     
    panjandrum said:
    Amn't I? is regularly heard here.

    A very good previous thread, Aren't I ? included further discussion on this form, and even more links.
    It also discusses ain't I.

    Surely aren't I can't be correct?
    I are right, aren't I?:eek:
    I am right, amn't I?:)
    Take your pick, and explain :D

    Thanks a lot Panjandrum, I've actually made a search before posting, but I must have written the wrong word...
     
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