Apostrophes in Contractions (with Examples)

Our Story

Search...

Apostrophes in Contractions

Apostrophes are used in contractions. A contraction is an abbreviated version of a word or words.
apostrophes in contractions

Apostrophes Replace Missing Letters

The apostrophe in a contraction replaces at least one letter. Here are five common contractions with an explanation of how they have been formed.

is
+
not
=>
isn't

(The contraction is "isn't." In this contraction, the apostrophe replaces the "o" of "not," and the two words become one.)

I
+
have
=>
I've

(Here, the apostrophe replaces the "ha" of "have," and the two words become one.)

you
+
would
=>
you'd

(In this contraction, the apostrophe replaces the "woul" of "would," and the two words become one.)

cannot
=>
can't

(This time, the original word was one word. The apostrophe replaces the "no.")

will
+
not
=>
won't

("Won't" is a quirk. It is actually a contraction of "woll not" (not "will not"). In Middle English, the verb that we now spell "will" existed in a few forms, including "woll" and "welle." Probably because "won't" is easy to say, the "woll" version of the verb has survived in the contraction "won't" into modern English )

Contractions with Apostrophes Are Common in Informal Writing

Contractions are generally reserved for informal writing as they are used to reflect how people speak. Contractions with apostrophes are not common in formal writing.

Examples of Contractions with Apostrophes

Here are some more examples of contractions with apostrophes:
  • If you don't fail now and again, it's a sign you're playing it safe. (Actor Woody Allen)
  • Don't look now, but there's one too many in this room, and I think it's you. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
Read more about apostrophes used to replace missing letters.

Contractions with "Is"

It is common for 's to be added to a noun to mean "is." For example:
  • Blood's not thicker than money. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
  • (Blood is not thicker than money.)

Only Use Official Contractions

You cannot make up your own contractions. For example:
  • Can you play the g'tar?
Also, you cannot cannot link contractions. For example:
  • I couldn't've joined in because I'd've been too tall.

Official Contractions

Here is a list of official contractions:
ContractionOriginal
aren'tare not
can'tcannot
couldn'tcould not
didn'tdid not
doesn'tdoes not
don'tdo not
hadn'thad not
hasn'thas not
haven'thave not
he'dhe had, he would
he'llhe will, he shall
he'she is, he has
I'dI had, I would
I'llI will, I shall
I'mI am
I'veI have
isn'tis not
it'sit is, it has
let'slet us
mustn'tmust not
shan'tshall not
she'dshe had, she would
she'llshe will, she shall
she'sshe is, she has
shouldn'tshould not
that'sthat is, that has
there'sthere is, there has
they'dthey had, they would
they'llthey will, they shall
they'rethey are
they'vethey have
we'dwe had, we would
we'rewe are
we'vewe have
weren'twere not
what'llwhat will, what shall
what'rewhat are
what'swhat is, what has
what'vewhat have
where'swhere is, where has
who'dwho had, who would
who'llwho will, who shall
who'rewho are
who'swho is, who has
who'vewho have
won'twill not
wouldn'twould not
you'dyou had, you would
you'llyou will, you shall
you'reyou are
you'veyou have
Read more about contractions.
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.

See Also

Using apostrophes Using brackets parentheses Using colons Using commas Using dashes Using hyphens Using quotation marks Using semicolons "Apostrophes for possession" game (Tetris-style game) "Apostrophes in time expressions" game (Tetris-style game)