Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seven words you should never use in "real" writing: aint, gonna, wanna, 2moro, u, ur and cuz/coz

We often learn by imitating others; However, this is sometimes how we learn bad habits. American slang is full of wonderful, inventive words like earworm, slacker, jigsaw family, closet case and staycation; However, these aren't words you should necessarily use with the big boss of your company. The same is true with aint, gonna, wanna, 2moro, u, ur and cuz/coz. Here are explanations of each...

Non-existent word: aint or ain't

"Ain't" is an American colloquialism. It's often substituted for various conjugations of the verb "be" or "have" but only in the negative. For example:

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.

Correct English: There isn't any sunshine when she's gone.
"Ain't" is often used in lyrics because of the long vowel quality of the word. To say "There isn't…" creates a harder sound, not as suitable for singing.

I ain't got no money.

Correct English: I don't have any money.
Uneducated native speakers will often make the additional mistake of using double negatives.

She ain't there.

Correct English: She isn't there.

They ain't be playing good.

Correct English: They aren't playing well.
Or: They haven't been playing well. (depending on context)
Uneducated native speakers will often make the additional mistake of using good as an adjective and adverb.

He ain't be doin' so good.

Correct English: He hasn't been doing so well.
I have even heard Americans use "ain't" in perfect tenses.

Verbal contraction: gonna

Are you gonna go my way?

Correct English: Are you going to go my way? (asking someone's intention)

"Gonna" is not a real word. When we speak, "going to" often sounds like "gonna." This is another word used in a lot of popular songs. This is only used when substituting "gonna" in the verb tense going + to+ infinitive. For example, people will say, "I'm gonna do my homework later." But they won't say, "I'm gonna the store."

Verbal contraction: wanna

All I wanna do...

Correct English: All I want to do...

"Wanna" is similar to "gonna." It's a verbal contraction. When we speak, "want to" often comes out as "wanna." There are 2 T's in a row and sometimes they disappear completely in normal, spoken, native English; However you should not use "wanna" in your college admissions essay, a cover letter for a job application or in emails. Text messaging is fine, but when you write an email, you have a full-size keyboard in front of you!

Text message contraction: 2moro

In English, we have the homonyms --- to, too and two (2). In text messages, we often write the number 2 since it sounds the same. Again, avoid this in cover letters, job applications, anytime you have a full keyboard in front of you.

Text message contractions: u and ur

English is often not spelled the way it is spoken. The letter U and the word "you" sound exactly the same. It's the same problem with "though," "fought" and "sovereign," among many, many others. Why aren't they spelled "tho," "fot" and "sovvurn"? Well, these irregularities in English spelling derive from the Roman invasions of Britain in the first century AD. The Latin alphabet (what most of us use today) was adapted from Cumae, a variant of the Greek alphabet. Latin has a very different phonetic structure from English. When the ancient people on the island of Britain made the conversion from runes to Latin characters, there were a lot of sounds that weren't well represented in the new system of writing. This is like trying to write English words using the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. Modern day Italian, on the other hand, sounds exactly the way it is spelled.

Verbal and text message contraction: cuz/coz

The word "because" falls into this same category. It should really be spelled "beekuz." When we speak, this is how we say it. In addition to this, the word is made even shorter and is sometimes spoken as "cuz" or "coz." "Daddy, can I do blahblahblah?" "No." "Why?" "Cuz, I said so." This was a common conversation between parents and children when I was young.