SPECIAL EDITION

UWF WRITING LAB

 

Is Ain't A Word?
By Mamie Webb Hixon

     Is ain't a word? Of course, it's a word. It resides in the dictionary along with other "words" such as irregardless, enthused, and complected; and it has been used by reputable speakers and writers. So why the stigma? Why are ain't users called dumb, stupid, illiterate, sub-literate, ignorant, and uneducated? Why are there such far-reaching, serious, almost career-damaging consequences of using ain't? More often than not, those so-called uneducated people who use ain't also use irregardless, enthused, complected, hisself, in regards to, had of, and an array of other substandard expressions _ it comes with the territory.
     Ain't
bears the stigma it does because many ain't users don't limit their use to the first-person negative question Aren't I? They use ain't in all instances _ You ain't, they ain't, he ain't, she ain't; the list goes on. Your decision to use ain't should be a deliberate, intentional one. Its usage should be masterfully incorporated and rhetorically executed for the desired effect. If you use ain't thoughtlessly or carelessly without regard to content, then you may not only incur the wrath of your reader or listener, but you may also undermine your own credibility as a writer. Now, ain't that the truth!

 


"Our attitude about ain't," says Martha Kolln in Understanding English Grammar," is an issue about manners, not grammar. If the network newscasters and the [P]resident of the United States and English teachers began to use ain't on a regular basis, its status would change very quickly." She continues: "The linguist Paul Roberts made the idea of usage very clear when he said that teachers and newscasters and presidents don't avoid ain't because it's nonstandard; it's nonstandard because such people avoid it."

 

 

United We Stand.

 

 

 

 

Laying It on the Line
By M. Gretchen Harris

     Perhaps it is time to lay down the rules I found lying around regarding the usage of lie and lay. Lay means "to place or put something," while lie means "to rest or recline."

     I will lay my books down for the night.
     While John was laying carpet, he found fifty 
     dollars lying under the couch.

An especially troublesome verb form is lay. Not only is it the present tense form meaning "to put," but it is also the past tense of lie, meaning "to rest."

     I'll lay the keys on the kitchen table.
     John lay awake last night thinking about how he 
     would spend the fifty dollars.
     lie (to rest)    lay (to put)
    lies  lays
    laying  laying
    lay  laid
    (have) lain   (have) laid

Another especially troublesome form of lie is lying, the present participle of lie. Lying may be used with both animate and inanimate objects.

     The scissors are lying on the desk.
     Tourists are lying on the beach getting sunburned.

 

May I Have an "M," Please?
By The Grammar Guru

     So you're a contestant on Wheel of Fortune? How are you going to request your consonants and vowels? "May I have a a, please?" "May I have an a, please?" "May I have a s, please?" "May I have an s, please?"
Just follow these simple rules:
Use a before letters and words with an initial consonant sound:
"May I have a u, please?" The letter u is a vowel, but when pronounced, it has an initial consonant sound.
Use an before letters and words with an initial vowel sound:
"May I have an s, please?" The letter s and several other consonants have an initial vowel sound (f, h, l, m, n, r, s, and x).

With words and initialisms, the same principles apply:
a university an understanding
a historical occasion an honorary degree
a master's degree an MBA degree
a Saturday game an SAT score of 1000
a one-hour appointment an ordinary person

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