Informal/Colloquial English

Number 55 of 59 in A2 - ELEMENTARY

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Any language learner who arrives in the country must immediately adjust from the English he or she has learnt to the English he or she hears on the streets and in the bars. I would not advise you to use colloquial English, at least until you have spent a considerable time in the country.

Let’s have a look at these examples of informal/colloquial Englishvfrom my Reading/Activity book, ‘Aethelflaed and the Rock Star’ RED (available on Amazon as e-book and paperback):

Let’s start with ‘ain’t’. This word is not usually taught in class, yet is very common in day-to-day English. Although I would not advise you to use it, as it is colloquial, it is important to recognise and understand it:

  • I ain’t = I’m not
  • You ain’t = You’re not / You aren’t
  • S/He or It ain’t = S/He or It isn’t (‘Innit’ is another variant)
  • We ain’t = We aren’t
  • They ain’t = They aren’t

‘In conclusion, ‘ain’t’ is the negative of any form of ‘Be’ in the present tense.

Let’s look at other forms of informal contractions:

  • “You gotta be quick, man” Moonzip told Athelstan. = have got to/a
  • Lemme buy this parrot” he told Aethelflaed. = Let me
  • Gimme a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich” said Moonzip. = Give me
  • “I wanna stay here!” Moonzip wailed. = want to/a
  • Aethelflaed sang ‘A change is gonna come’ by Sam Cooke. = going to
  • Moonzip thought that Little Walter’s ‘Last Night’ was kinda neat. = kind of
  • “Heidi! I want you outta here now!” = out of
  • Wassap girl?” Moonzip asks Aethelflaed = What’s up?
  • Watcha gonna do now?” Moonzip asks, holding Squeaky. = What are you..?

It is also very common to hear changes in the pronunciation of several words. These
are not usually written this way, even when transcribing colloquial dialogue:

  • You = Ya
  • Do you….? = D’you or D’ya
  • Get you or Got you = Getcha or Gotcha
  • Don’t you…? or Can’t you…? = Douncha or Cancha
  • Could have (or: Should/Would/Must have..) = Could-uvf or Coulda

Rewrite these sentences using a more colloquial language:

  1. “I’m not going to tell you!”
  2. “You’ve got to get out of here!”
  3. “What do you want to do tomorrow?”
  4. “You should have asked me to help. Give me a second to see what’s up…”
  5. “Can’t you go another day? Let me get you a ticket for this Saturday.”

Let’s have a look at these examples from my Reading/Activity book, ‘Aethelflaed and the Rock Star’ RED (available on Amazon as e-book and paperback):

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