I apologize for the play with incorrect words, or should I say non-words?
The other day I was searching the Internet for some common phrases and expressions to teach my ESL students when I came across a site that taught the use of gonna and wanna as appropriate commonly spoken sentences to teach ESL students. It is one thing to tell your students that they may hear these ‘words’ and to inform them that the usage of these words is not appropriate in Standard English grammar. But, if we, as English language educators, are teaching students so they can become proficient in the English language, then it is always wrong to teach ‘bad grammar’.
This was not the first time I had come across the teaching of these words as acceptable English words. While providing English language training to a class of business employees, the question was raised by one of the employees about the usage of gonna and wanna. Apparently one of his high school teachers had taught that it was okay to use these words in the English language.
So if you can’t use these words, then what words should you use? What words should be taught to English language students?
Rather than ‘ain’t’, use instead I am not or I’m not, he/she/it is not or he’s/she’s/it’s not, we are not, you are not, they are not, and etc.
I am not going to the movies tonight.
I’m not going to the movies tonight.
He is not playing this weekend.
He’s not playing this weekend.
We are not traveling to London this year.
We’re not traveling to London this year.
Rather than ‘gonna’, use instead I am going to + verb or I’m going to + verb and etc.
I am going to do my homework right away.
I’m going to see my aunt tomorrow.
He is going to study at the library.
He’s going to fix the faucet.
They are going to see a movie tonight.
They’re going to eat dinner at 8 PM.
Rather than ‘wanna’, use instead I want to + verb, they want to + verb, etc
I want to get good marks this year.
We want to see a movie tonight.
They want to finish the dishes first.
There will be those that say that it is acceptable to use these words in casual speech; among friends and family. But the question to ask is this: Why should you start a bad habit? A bad habit is hard to get rid of, and it often crops up when you don’t want it. For example, let’s say you have become used to using these bad grammar words. Then you want to go for an interview where excellent communication skills and professionalism is a job requirement. If these are not part of who you are, you can ‘kiss the job good-bye’. The interview panel asks you a question, and lo and behold; ain’t, the words wanna or gonna come out of your mouth. You can be assured that the interview panel picked up on your grammar error and it could jeopardize you getting that ideal job. If you stick to grammatically correct English in both written and oral communications, then you will never go wrong. You will never make this kind of blunder. You will always speak well, write well and always come across as someone who is sophisticated, educated and professional. Any time, all the time is the right time to use correct grammar.
The grammatically correct way to state the title is, I am not going to want to use these words. Whatever you heard about the acceptance of using these non-words, ain’t, gonna and wanna, label it as incorrect information or instruction; put it far away from you and go forward using the correct words am not, want to and going to instead.