What Are Contractions? (with Examples)
ContractionsA contraction is an abbreviated version of a word or words.
Easy Examples of ContractionsThere are two main types of contraction:
(1) Those formed by replacing missing letter(s) with an apostrophe. (These contractions are formed either by shortening a word or merging two words into one.) For example:
(2) Those formed by compressing or truncating a word. (These contractions do not feature apostrophes.) For example:
These are compressed versions of the full words:
- Mr. (compressed version of Mister)
- Dr. (compressed version of Doctor)
- Prof. (truncated version of Professor)
- Rev. (truncated version of Reverend)
Read more about periods (full stops) in contractions.
Real-Life 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?
Click on Two Contractions
Only Use Apostrophes to Replace Letters in Standard 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|
Why Should I Care about Contractions?There are four common issues involving contractions.
(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.
- 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.
Read more about possessive determiners. (Your, their, and its are all possessive determiners.)