African American Vernacular English/Verbs/Copula

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In all dialects of English, the copula "to" be is used to state location: "I'm in Boston"; and description/equivalence "I'm America," "He's a linguist."

In MAE, this is always mandatory. In AAVE, and in many other dialects of English, not to mention other languages, different rules apply.

Conjugation[edit | edit source]

In MAE, there are three conjugations for the present tense: am, is, are; and two for the past tense: was, were.
In AAVE, there is only one conjugation for each tense: is for the present, and was for the past.

Present Tense[edit | edit source]

AAVE does not usually use the copula "to be" when making a statement in the present tense. One major exception is when used for emphasis.

Negation[edit | edit source]

Questions[edit | edit source]

Past Tense[edit | edit source]

AAVE does use the copula "to be" in the past tense, however there is only one form: "was." Therefore "I was," "you was," "we was," etc.

"Is" as an auxiliary[edit | edit source]

"To be" when used as an auxiliary to form the present continuous ("He is running"), follows the same rules as when used as a copula.