Nearly everyone knows that ain’t is the epitome of irregular grammar. It should never be used in business writing. I argue that this lowly contraction should also be avoided like swine flu in all other forms of communication—whether you are having a face-to-face conversation with coworkers, texting your best friend, or chatting with your grandmother on the phone, just don’t say it! However…
The reality is that many people still utilize this linguistic criminal on a daily basis. As such, ain’t is occasionally employed in poetic, literary, and musical endeavors. Here is a list of some of my favorite grammatically-incorrect songs:
- It Ain’t Me, Babe (written and performed by Bob Dylan)
- The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ (written by Ronny Scaife and Marty Stuart, performed by Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart)
- Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (written by Jim Steinman, performed by Meat Loaf)
- I Ain’t Ever Satisfied (written and performed by Steve Earle)
- Ain’t Leavin’ Your Love (written and performed by Townes Van Zandt)
Let’s be honest, the venerable Mr. Dylan might have lost a bit of his raw edge if he had written “No, no, no it is not me, babe. It is not me you’re lookin’ for, babe.”
So, while ain’t will always be wildly unacceptable in formal content, the artistic world remains linguistically unrestrained. And that ain’t bad!
(Yes, that is a picture of me at three years old, rocking out on my very own guitar.)
Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.