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How to Use AM and I AM Correctly

use am and I'm correctly

The argument in favour of bad English by many Nigerians is that English is not native to us. Many even say that the Englishmen also don’t speak our language. But those are just excuses.

English is Nigeria’s lingua franca, (official language, that is) and so must be spoken and written correctly.

While I understand that we may never attain same level of fluency as native speakers like Americans, Brits, Canadians and Australians alike, I’m sure we can speak without committing silly errors. It’s possible.

Today, I’ll be talking about the misuse of “am” among Nigerians, which has become so common you’d think it’s the correct rendering.

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How did the problem begin?


When people hear the word when used in a sentence, their ears pick only “am” and would argue they heard right.

AM, like IS, is an auxiliary verb and so can NEVER begin a statement. It can only begin a question.

You can read that again.

To use “am” correctly in a sentence, it has to be preceded by a subject, like every other auxiliary verb. And the only preceding subject is “I.”

Here’s what I mean:

It is wrong to say “am coming.” It’s just like saying “is coming.”

“is coming” doesn’t make sense, right? “am coming” doesn’t, too.

He is coming. Correct.


Incorrect: Am coming.

Correct: I am coming.

The mistake comes from people hearing other people say “am coming” when what they actually said was “I’m coming.”

When I am is contracted to I’m, it may be difficult to discern from “am” and that’s what confused many people.

I hope you understand.

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  • Don’t begin a sentence a sentence with “am” except to ask a question. E.g. am I to do that?
  • To make a statement or sentence with “am” without put “I” before it. E.g. I am not coming.
  • I’m is a contaraction of I am. They both mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

And that’s it about “AM.” You can read more on English Grammar on the blog.

I wrote an article about the misuse of Your and You’re, and also about some fixed expressions you will find interesting.

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