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Question Tag in Full Form Instead of in Contracted Form? I’ve read a grammar book in which the writer says either ‘aren’t I?’ or ‘am I not?’ can be used to follow affirmative statements starting with ‘I am’ when forming tag questions. What I’d like to ask is: 1) if ‘ain’t I’ is also an alternative; 2) if we can also use full form (instead of the commonly used contracted form) in other negative question tags. Tags in full form, such as ‘shall we not?’, ‘must she not?’ and ‘ought they not?’ are more formal, are they? I’m looking forward to your response. Thank you in advance!
Apr 25, 2016 8:19 PM
Answers · 7
(1) 'Ain't I?' is an alternative, but ONLY for those people whose way of speaking includes the non-standard form 'ain't'. It is not an alternative for speakers of standard/ 'correct' English. (2) We tend not to use full forms for tag questions. It isn't just a question of formality. All the examples you give, which are using modal verbs, sound very stilted and unnatural. You might come across them in a Jane Austen novel, for example, but we wouldn't normally use them in modern everyday English. In general, we prefer to use modal/auxiliary negative contractions in tag questions. The only exception is the negative of 'am I?', which is a little different because it has no standard contracted form. By the way, I said no 'standard' contracted form, because, in fact, the form 'amn't I?' does exist - but it is only used in Scotland and Ireland. The form which has become widespread in England is the irregular 'aren't I?'. This is based on a dialect from certain English regions in which the first person singular of the verb to be is 'are', rather than 'am'. People who try to avoid this form choose to use the uncontracted form 'am I not?', because it seems more regular. But this is the exception rather than the rule - for all other subjects, we generally use the contractions.
April 25, 2016
Hi! #1. "Ain't I?" is an alternative, however it is very informal and technically not proper grammar from my understanding (I am a native English speaker). I would say to only use it among close friends your age or younger. #2. Negatives questions tags in full form are more formal but not so formal that you couldn't to use them in informal situations.
April 25, 2016
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