aave, african american vernacular english

What is AAVE and which words are non-black people being asked to avoid?

It stands for African American Vernacular English

On social media recently the phrase AAVE has been cropping up increasingly often – in TikTok comments sections, in fiery Twitter threads – and it all seems to revolve around the words that people are using in their day to day vocabulary. More often than not, the use of these words will lead to impassioned debates on what kind of language we can and can’t use online, and who has the right to use language based upon what heritage they have.

However, that doesn’t make it any clearer what AAVE is – so what actually is AAVE? Am I allowed to use AAVE? Why am I not allowed to use these words?

What is AAVE?

AAVE stands for African American Vernacular English, and is essentially a vocabulary that is claimed to have been created by African American communities going back many years. This includes but is not limited to:


A common misconception is that this is language created by Gen Z because they appear to be the ones that use it the most, but some communities are saying that this is not the case.

Can I use AAVE?

According to AAVE Card, if you are white or a non-black person of colour, you should not use any of the above phrases. This is because, according to the author of the page, by using these words means more than to simply imitate expressions.

“It is a dialect, with its own structure, and there are many other issues that come along with it, for example, how you pronounce the words or using a blaccent. This list was intended to educate people on the words they consider “gen z” or “stan” language and where they actually come from. Taking small AAVE terms and phrases out of your vocabulary is a start but it is not the solution.”

If you’re looking for an even more detailed list of words and phrases you’re not allowed to use anymore including “bruh”, “ain’t” and “👏 clapping 👏emojis 👏 between 👏 words 👏 “, click here.

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