"gonna" and "wanna": How acceptable in English usage?

Somebody again today pointed this out to me. I tend to be very articulate when it comes to using the English language. As in using a lot of big, fancy words that most people don’t (correctly of course.), Yet I not infrequently in conversation will use “gonna” and “wanna”, and even “oughta”. I’m quite aware this isn’t the sort of usage expected from a college educated person. Surely I would have never used such in an essay in advanced philosophy course years ago. :wink: And most definitely not in an e-mail to the big shots at the corporation I work for. However, in everyday usage, even with highly educated folks, it is pretty much the norm for me to use “gonna” and “wanna” in a sentence. I don’t know quite why. Perhaps in part Janis Ian has long been my favorite musical artist, and “gonna” is repeatedly used in the lyrics of “Society’s Child”. Or perhaps just because these words roll of the tongue easy. “It’s not gonna work” flows smoothly for me, while “It’s not going to work” just seems odd.

How do you consider the acceptabilty of such in spoken English? A venial linguistic sin? A mortal linguistic sin? Or just common enough usage today it can be ignored? I just checked Google.

Results 1 - 100 of about 10,000,000 for gonna
Results 1 - 100 of about 11,000,000 for wanna

I’m obviously not the only person fluent in English who uses these words. Languages do evolve. English speakers today don’t use the same words Shakespeare did. My contention is that in 2005 it is OK to use “gonna” and “wanna”. I’ve yet to encounter someone who spoke English who didn’t understand what I meant. And this includes a lot of folks who learned English as a second language.

I just hope I “ain’t gonna” have to spend a long time in linguistic purgatory after I am dead for defiling the English language. :wink:

“Gonna” and “wanna” are part of my everyday conversational vocabulary, though I would never use 'em in a formal setting. Just about everybody has different usage standards for casual and formal English. Something that sounds just fine when you’re having a few beers with your friends may sound bizarre when you’re accepting the Nobel Prize.

I use them everyday, unless it’s in something I am going to be graded on.

I’ve noted the increase in the use of “prolly”. I used to correct my kids when they said it, but lately I find myself using it more and more.

I recently read something interesting about the word “gonna”. The author was a language expert and he pointed out that “gonna” only replaced “going to” in certain cases. People say “I’m gonna do some shopping” but they don’t say “I’m gonna to the store”.

That latter example should have been “I’m gonna the store”.

Gotcha ya!

There’s also “kinda”. I say it a lot, but whenever I write, I always change it to “rather.” Because “kind of” doesn’t sound like it would be an adequate replacement (like “going to” for “gonna”).

“Gonna” and “kinda” aren’t written usage: they are not used in standard-register texts (letters, essays, documents, journalism, and so forth). They can be used consciously for special effect, for example in literature and advertising, but not in standard usage.

In speech, obviously, they’re used all the time, and even subject to certain linguistic rules such as Little Nemo pointed out.

and of course, instant messaging.

Then why do I find so many examples in writing on a Google search? I also use words like “gonna” in writing in informal contexts. Such as posts on message boards, probably even here. And in spoken form, I don’t just use them for special effect. When confronted with a dumb notion, it would be standard for me to say something like “that’s an idea that ain’t gonna fly.” It so happens in real life I happen to deal with a lot of people who aren’t well trained in “proper” English usage. However, my use of these terms has nothing to do with “dumbing down” my speech amongst such people. I’m just comfortable using in speech words like “kinda”. And I’ve yet to encounter anyone who had trouble understanding such use. This includes people from places like Nigeria, Afghanistan, India and Zambia. Saying “I don’t wanna do that” is comprehesible by all of them. I don’t consider such usage odd. Since everyone understands my meaning, why is this not standard English?

That’s because “gonna” means “going to”. “I’m going to to the store” makes no sense. However, “later today I’m gonna shop at Widgetco” works. Everyone just understands this means “later today I’m going to shop and Widgetco.” No matter how improper you think uttering “gonna” is, it is universally understood to mean " going to". If everyone understands the meaning, how is this improper English?

And what about “should of” and “could of” instead of “should have” and “could have?” You teachers of bad high school essays certainly have come across this one.

Dunno, spose it 'pends really… Somes stuff ya wanna say cuz ya can. Watcha gonna do?

Am I the only person who says “gonna wanna,” as in “You’re gonna wanna go to the store later”?

Now that I’ve written it down, I keep telling myself it looks more ludicrous than it sounds.

As he explained later, he meant that nobody says “I’m gonna the store.” “Gonna” is used only to express the future aspect.

Which is what I said.

Well, no. As I said, they’re used in standard writing for formal effect.

As I said, it’s not considered standard written English. The standards for written and spoken English are quite different. Basically, standard written English is what you would write in an ordinary letter; informal written English would be more akin to the usage in a message board.

But “wanna” and “gonna” are semi-standard spoken English; this, though similar to standard written English, contains a lot of pronunciations and other artifacts (such as “gonna”) that aren’t expressed in writing of the same formality. For example, if I’m writing an e-mail to my client, I’ll write “I want to take another look at this document” even though I would say “I wanna take…”

You probably won’t hear it from a CBC anchorperson, but you’ll hear it in conversation even between two people who would communicate with each other using standard written English.

I meant “for special effect.”

No. I do it too. It makes perfect sense.

All I know is such makes perfect sense to those I tend to communicate with verbally. “Wanna”, “gonna”, and even “dunno” just are understood and ignored. Even Asians and Africans who ask me a question get my meaning if I utter “I dunno”. They don’t bother to point out such usage is improper. As I am local native speaker of the language, they just adapt. This makes a lot of sense.

I’d consider “gonna” and “wanna” as contractions, similar to (if slightly less standard than) things like “don’t,” “wasn’t,” “he’s,” or the first word in this sentence.