You might wonder what the difference between formal and informal styles is. One of the elements that can make your writings informal is using contractions.

Contractions in English

What Are Contractions?

Contraction is the shortened form of words. Actually, it happens when two words are used as a single word. Some letters are omitted to make a word shorter.

How To Make Contractions?

To make contractions we need to use apostrophes. In fact, you omit some letters and put an apostrophe to replace them. Remember, if there is more than one omitted letter, you still use only one apostrophe.

You're really jealous. (You are → You're)

I won't leave you alone. (Will not → Won't)

When Do We Use Contractions?

We can use contractions in the following cases:

Auxiliary Verbs

In this lesson, we will learn about auxiliary verbs (have, be, do).

To Be Verbs: Contracted Forms

When we use to be verbs only in the present tense they can be contracted with the subject pronoun which is used before them. Or sometimes with the noun which is used as the subject before them. Here are a few examples:

I am happy to see you. → I'm happy to see you.

We are waiting for him at the airport. → We're waiting for him at the airport.

Sarah is a nurse. → Sarah's a nurse.

Let us take a look at the table to see all the contracted forms of to be verbs combined with their subject pronouns.

Full Form Contraction
I am I'm
you are you're
she is she's
he is he's
it is it's
we are we're
they are they're

Contraction of the verb "be"

Have: Contracted Forms

The contracted form of the verb 'to have' whether in present tense or the past tense are 've and 'd. Look at the examples:

I've got to go.

They'd been in China.

In the following table, you can see the contracted forms of the verb 'have'. Remember, you can combine them with any subject.

Full Forms Contractions
have 've
has 's
had 'd

Negative Contractions

As you know, to make negative sentences we just add 'not' to the auxiliary verbs. To make a negative contraction, all you need to do is to omit the letter Oand use an apostrophe instead. Check out these examples:

You aren't quite what I thought you'd be.

They haven't talked to me yet.

Take a look at the table and see the negative contractions of to be verbs.

Full Forms Contractions
am not _ (there is no contraction form for am not)
is not isn't
are not aren't
was not wasn't
were not weren't

Take a look at the table of negative contractions of the auxiliary verbs have and do.

Full Forms Contractions
have not haven't
has not hasn't
had not hadn't
do not don't
does not doesn't
did not didn't

Two of the modal verbs can also be contracted with the subject pronouns that are used before them. These two modal verbs are will and would. Here are a few examples:

I'll call you as soon as possible

We'd like to hear from you.

On this table, you can find the most common contractions of modal verbs.

Full Form Contraction
I will, she will, we will, etc. I'll, she'll, we'll, etc.
I would, she would, we would, etc. I'd, she'd, we'd, etc.

This table shows the negative contractions of modal verbs in the present tense.

Full Forms Contractions
cannot can't
shall not shan't
will not won't
may not mayn't
must mustn't


Since there is a rule to contract the negative form, you might have noticed that won't and shan't do not follow the same rules as others. This is because they are formed based on an ancient form of these modal verbs.


Remember, shall and shan't are no longer common in American English, especially shan't.
shall still is common and very polite between the British English speaker.

Check out the table of negative modal verbs in the past tense.

Full Forms Contractions
could not couldn't
would not wouldn't
might not mightn't
should not shouldn't
ought not to oughtn't to

Contractions with Interrogative Words

Some of the interrogative words can be contracted with the to be verb is. For example:

When's your birthday?

Where's your key?

In the following table, you can see the contracted forms of the question words with 'be'.

Full Forms Contractions
what is what's
when is when's
how is how's
where is where's
who is who's

Contracted Forms of Phrases

Contractions are used to make the context informal. There are also contracted forms of a few phrases that make a text even more informal. Here are the most common ones on the list.

  • whatcha → what are you, gonna → going to, wanna → want to
  • ya → you, gimme → give me, gotta → (have) got to
  • ain't → am not/are not/is not, kinda → kind of
  • lemme → let me, y'all → you all


Some contractions such as ain't , y'all and many more, are slangs. Maybe some of them get so popular among English speakers and be well-known and can be understood everywhere, but there are some that maybe just the people of the same area will get them.

Abbreviations vs Contractions

When we use abbreviations we actually are using one special form for each word. But when we use contractions we are using a single word as a combination for another two or three words. Compare these two examples.


In this example, 'U' stands for united, 'S' stands for stated, and 'A' stands for America


Wanna stands for both want and to. In this example, wanna means 'want to.'

Mistakes To Avoid


If the contractions lack clarity, it's better to avoid them. For example: "she'd" can be both "she had" and "she would", so if it's not clear in our sentence we avoid using it.


We should avoid double contractions. We certainly must not have two contractions back to back, let's see an example:

❌He'sn't busy → He isn't busy or he's not busy.


If the contraction be mistaken with a possessive even for a moment, it is better to avoid it.

❌Amanda’s key to this problem.

Amanda is a key to this problem. Not her key to this problem!


We should avoid using contractions in formal writings unless we are quoting something from someone in our writing.


We do not use contractions at the end of the affirmative clauses.

Is she Sarah? → ✔Yes she is, ❌not→ yes she’s.

This doesn't apply for negative form.


Contractions are used to make informal texts and conversations. We have different types of contractions as follows.

  • modal verbs
  • interrogative words
  • phrases
  • auxiliary verbs (have, do, be)


Loading recaptcha

You might also like


An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used on many occasions in English. Its meaning is dependent on the context it is used in.


A slash is a punctuation in the English language. In this article you can learn about its functions.


Capitalization is to write the first letter of a word in uppercase. In this lesson, you will learn all the rules about this subject.


When sentences are used together and they are linked to each other, they can finally form paragraphs. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

Ellipsis Punctuation

Ellipses is the plural form of ellipsis. They are three dots beside each other that stand for something. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

Run-on Sentences

Run-on sentences are special types of sentences that are not actually correct ones. In this lesson, you will learn how to fix them.

download langeek app for free