Contractions for intermediate learners

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.

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Contractions in English

What Are Contractions?

When we want to shorten words and turn two words into one, it is called contraction. Take a look at the following examples:

I am at school. → I'm at school.

He cannot wear that dress tonight. → He can't wear that dress tonight.

They are at the party. → They're at the party.

Uses

We can use contractions in the following cases:

Now, let us analyze some of them below:

Auxiliary Verbs

Here, we are going to explain auxiliary verbs (be/have/do). Let us start with 'to be':

To Be

We can shorten the 'to be' verb both with the subject pronoun and with the noun that has come before them. Below is a table of the contracted form of the 'to be' verb with subject pronouns:

Full form Contracted form
I am I'm
You are You're
It is It's
He is He's
She is She's
We are We're
They are They're

Warning!

Please note that 'it's' is different from 'its' in that the second one is a possessive pronoun.

Now, let us see how they are used in sentences:

I'm at the bakery mom.

We're trying to concentrate here.

Paul's offering us a new job.

This auxiliary verb can also have a contracted negative form. Take a look at the following table:

Full form Contracted form
I am not -
You are not You aren't
It is not It isn't
He is not He isn't
She is not She isn't
We are not We aren't
They are not They aren't

Now, study the following examples:

Tania isn't working hard enough.

You aren't supposed to talk to your mother like that.

It isn't the place that is scary.

To Have

The next common auxiliary verb is 'to have'. It is useful to know that they can be combined with any subject. Take a look at the following table:

Full form Contracted form
Have 've
Has 's
Had 'd

Now, let us take a look at some examples below:

I've already been to that café.

Anne's worked so hard for this project.

They'd eaten before coming here.

Just like the other auxiliary verb, this one can have a contracted negative form. Take a look at the following table:

Full form Contracted form
Have not Haven't
Has not Hasn't
Had not Hadn't

Now, let us analyze some examples below:

She hasn't showed up lately.

They haven't gone mad yet.

I haven't had the time to read your analysis honey.

'To Do'

The next important auxiliary verb is 'to do'. However, this verb can only be contracted in the negative form. Take a look at the following table for more clarification:

Full form Contracted form
Do not Don't
Does not Doesn't
Did not Didn't

Now, let us take a look at some examples below:

She didn't give in, though.

It doesn't bother me anymore.

Don't you dare talk to me like that, boy!

Interrogative Words

It is possible to shorten words when we are asking questions. Take a look at the table below to understand how we can use 'to be' in questions and shorten it:

Full form Contracted fomr
What is What's
When is When's
Where is Where's
How is How's
Who is Who's

Warning!

Please note that only when we are asking 'wh-questions' we can use the contracted form of the 'to be' verb.

Now, let us take a look at some examples below:

When's Maria's birthday?

How's your relationship with Paula?

Where's your car, by the way?

Tip!

It is useful to know that some people may confuse these contractions with abbreviations. An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word that is uniquely for itself. Compare the following examples:

SKU

This is an abbreviation for Stock Keeping Unit

He's

This is just the combination of a subject pronoun and the 'to be' verb.

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