Aren't I? (vs. "Amn't I?")

 

Q:

Why can't I say, "I'm right, amn't I?" using a tag question?

Diane Mahin
[email protected]
A:

Various grammar references note the illogic of aren't I as a tag question, but all describe its existence.

As a very formal alternative, you could use am I not, as in:

I'm a human being, am I not?

As well as the conversational:

I'm a human being, aren't I?

Some grammar references show that ain't I has historically been only marginally acceptable. Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (The Grammar Book, Heinle & Heinle, 1999, p. 218) suggest that aren't I arose from the "strong social and educational stigmas against the use of ain't."

Whatever its background, aren't I is indeed the current colloquial tag ending for the first person singular.

See also Aren't I? (vs. Am I not?)