While certain expressions are commonly accepted in dialogue and conversation, slang terms and phrases should generally be avoided in academic writing.
Here are some common slang expressions and some tips on how to avoid them:
Ain’t (a contraction of one of the following: am not, is not, are not, have not): Instead of “they ain’t coming” you should write “they aren’t coming.” (Similarly, “she ain’t” = “she isn’t” and “I ain’t” = “I’m not”)
Y’all: While usually considered informal or slang, “y’all” should be written correctly if you must use this traditionally Southern term. “y’all” is short for “you all” and should be written with the apostrophe after the y (since you are leaving out the “ou” in “you”).
Irregardless: Used mistakenly as a formal version of regardless (and actually a combination of irrespective and regardless), this term is nonstandard and more often found in common language than in formal speech. Use “regardless” in writing … in fact, avoid using “irregardless” altogether.
Of instead of have: Many people confuse the incorrect “I could of done that” with the correct version of the phrase “I could have” or “I could’ve.” Never use “could of,” “would of,” etc. in your writing!
“My bad” is never acceptable in written or spoken communications. The proper phrase is “my mistake.”
Hisself: an improper form of “himself” … never use “hisself” in writing! The same goes for “theirselves” – the correct term is themselves.
In some regions, it is common to hear “I might could,” “I used to could,” or “You might should.” These are terribly awkward phrases that should be avoided in both written and spoken communication, as they make the speaker or writer sound uneducated.