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Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing
Aren't I? or Am I not?
Monday December 10th 2012
Question
Aren't I? or Am I not?
Answer

Question

Which is correct, “aren’t I?” or “am I not?” Plz let me know… thx –Kevin, South Korea  

 

Answer

Quick explanation

“Aren’t I?” is commonly used and very acceptable in informal language. “Am I not?” is grammatical, but extremely formal, so in most contexts, “aren’t I?” is the preferred choice. The only exception is when you are writing a formal letter or an academic paper, and then you can either use “am I not?,” or even better, restructure the sentence to avoid using either of these forms.

Additional information

As you know, aren’t is a contraction of are (a form of the verb be) + not. It is used in statements and questions, with you, they, and all other plural subjects, as in the examples below. 

  • Aren’t you going to the movies tonight?
  • No, we’re having a dinner party, so we aren’t going to the movies. 
  • John and Kelsey are going, aren’t they? 

For singular subjects, like he, she, it, Kelsey, and my professor, the correct contraction is isn’t, as in these examples:

  • It isn't raining anymore. 
  • My professor isn't in her office, so I'll send her an email message. 

However, for first person pronoun, I, there is no contraction with the verb be + not. (“Amn’t” is not a word in English.) Therefore, in casual speech and writing, English speakers use aren’t, instead, and except in formal situations, this is considered entirely grammatical. 

I hope this helps. 

 

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