It is what separates the wheat from the chaff and like every other part of English, it’s something you must learn if you want to have any chance of understanding native speakers. Unfortunately, it’s something that is often neglected by the learner (and maybe trainer) because they have to /want to focus on ‘standard’ English, which they meet mostly in English language books.
At the latest when they have to deal with natives who don’t speak ‘received pronunciation’ maybe have an accent and on top of that use informal English like short forms, phrasal verbs and idioms, not to mention, use lousy grammar (see free PDF download) and slang.
Let’s kick off with short forms like: ‘gonna’ (from ‘going to’), ‘wanna’ (want ), ‘gotta’ (have got), ‘you’d like’ ( the “‘d” is short for “would”) or even ‘you’d better’ (here confusingly, the “‘d” is short for “had”). Yes, when it comes to speaking, WE are lazy, we shorten whatever we can to speed things up & cut out the superfluous fluff.
However, the undisputed star, the gold medal winner (for efficiency) – presenting on the winners’ podium ——— ‘AIN’T’! The contraction for ‘am not’, ‘is not’, ‘are not’, ‘has not’ and ‘have not’.
That’s all well and good, Dave, but we want some helpful examples! Your wish is my command. Here’s my top 5.
- If it ain’t (isn’t) broke, don’t fix it = Man soll nicht reparieren, was nicht kaputt ist.
- Life ain’t (isn’t) easy = Das Leben ist kein Zuckerschlecken
- There ain’t (isn’t) no such thing as a free lunch = Nichts ist umsonst
- “You ain’t (haven’t) seen nothing yet” = song title by the BTO band (1974).
- Ain’t (isn’t) half bad this ‘slang up your Friday’, malarkey = Ganz gut.
To separate the wheat from the chaff (die Spreu vom Weizen trennen), to neglect sth (etw außer Acht lassen), to deal with sb (mit jdm umgehen), ‘received pronunciation RP’ (britische Standardaussprache), to shorten (verkürzen), superfluous (überflüssig) fluff (Fluse), undisputed (unbestritten), winners’ podium (Siegertreppchen), malarkey (Quatsch)
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