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What Are Contractions? (with Examples)A contraction is a type of abbreviation. Contractions are formed by replacing missing letters with an apostrophe (e.g., you're, it's, they're) or by compressing a word (e.g., Mr., Prof., Rev.).
Table of Contents
- The 2 Types of Contraction
- (1) Contractions with Apostrophes
- (2) Contractions from Compressed or Truncated Words
- Examples of Contractions
- "Find the Contractions" Test
- List of Common Contractions
- Why Contractions Are Important
- Printable Test
The 2 Types of ContractionThere are two types of contraction:
(1) Contractions with ApostrophesA contraction with an apostrophe is formed by replacing letter(s) with an apostrophe. These contractions are formed either by shortening a word or merging two words into one. For example:
(2) Contractions from Compressed or Truncated WordsA contraction from a compressed word does not feature an apostrophe. It is a compressed or truncated version of the full word.
- Mr. (compressed version of Mister)
- Dr. (compressed version of Doctor)
- Prof. (truncated version of Professor)
- Rev. (truncated version of Reverend)
Examples of ContractionsHere are some real-life sentences with contractions:
- I could agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.
- If you're hotter than me, then I'm cooler than you.
- If we shouldn't eat at night, why's there a light in the fridge?
"Find the Contractions" Test
Click on the Two Contractions
List of Common ContractionsWhen an apostrophe replaces a letter, a new word is formed (most often, but not always, from two words originally). The new word is called a contraction. You cannot invent your own contractions. Here is a list of common contractions in English:
|he'd||he had, he would|
|he'll||he will, he shall|
|he's||he is, he has|
|I'd||I had, I would|
|I'll||I will, I shall|
|it's||it is, it has|
|she'd||she had, she would|
|she'll||she will, she shall|
|she's||she is, she has|
|that's||that is, that has|
|there's||there is, there has|
|they'd||they had, they would|
|they'll||they will, they shall|
|we'd||we had, we would|
|what'll||what will, what shall|
|what's||what is, what has|
|where's||where is, where has|
|who'd||who had, who would|
|who'll||who will, who shall|
|who's||who is, who has|
|you'd||you had, you would|
|you'll||you will, you shall|
(Issue 1) Putting a period (full stop) at the end of a contraction.Writers are often unsure whether contractions like Mr and Dr should be written with periods (full stops) (i.e., Mr. and Dr.). There are two conventions:
Convention 1. Use a period every time.
- Dr. Smith asked Prof. Bloggs to remove para. 7 and paras. 18 to 22.
Convention 2. Use a period if the last letter of the contraction and the full word are different.
- Dr Smith asked Prof. Bloggs to remove para. 7 and paras 18 to 22. (Dr and doctor share the same last letters, as do paras and paragraphs. Therefore, these contractions do not require periods. Put another way, in the UK, truncated contractions (e.g., "Prof.") attract periods, but the compressed ones (e.g., "Mr") do not.)
(Issue 2) Confusing contractions with other words.The following contractions are often confused with other words:
- It's gets confused with its.
- You're gets confused with your.
- They're gets confused with there and their.
- Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all it's pupils.
- Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all it is pupils. (We've expanded the contraction, and our sentence makes no sense. Therefore, we shouldn't be using a contraction.)
- Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
(Issue 3) Expanding a contraction like "should've" to "should of."Contractions that shorten the word have (e.g., should've, could've) sound like they end with the word of. They don't! They have nothing to do with the word of. Writing should of, could of, or would of is a serious howler. Your readers will think you're dim if you make that mistake just once.
(Issue 4) Using contractions in business writing.Many people still consider contractions to be informal and inappropriate for business writing. Therefore, contractions are best avoided in business documentation, especially if you're writing about something serious and you're unsure of your readership. However, this is far from a ruling. Contractions can make text less stuffy and more enjoyable to read. If you're a cool or casual company and the subject is appropriate, whack those contractions in.
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