Iaren't I? I am not a native speaker of English, but that expression simply does not sound right to me. I was relatively confident that it was wrong until recently, when I heard a distinguished British intellectual use it. I thought the proper way of asking this question was am I not? Am I right or aren't I?
As a negative, interrogative form of I are, whose subject-verb agreement surely no usage authority or manual anywhere endorses, aren't I? is of course an illogical construction. And yet the authorities both here and in Britain cheerfully accept it in everyday -- though on the whole not in formal -- usage. What's recommended for formal contexts is indeed your am I not?
Only relatively recently has aren't I? been welcome in the United States. In the 1936 fourth edition of his classic The American Language, H. L. Mencken observed, "Aren't has never got a foothold in the American first person; when it is used at all, which is very rarely, it is always as a conscious Briticism." Strange to say, the construction that aren't I? has displaced -- ain't I? -- is now regarded as completely illiterate even though it is somewhat more logical, because it can be thought of as a contraction of am I not?
Mencken went on to make an argument of a kind that's often heard today with respect to other expressions and words. He wrote, "Facing the alternative of employing the unwieldy 'Am I not in this?' the American turns boldly to 'Ain't I in this?' Here, as always, the popular speech is pulling the exacter speech along, and no one familiar with its successes in the past can have much doubt that it will succeed again, soon or late."