Contractions in English and How to Use Them
How many times have you found yourself wanting to economize? And not just regarding your basic needs and wants, but even in language? But economizing is not just used for money matters nowadays, believe it or not. Whenever you feel the need to cut or shorten in order to save space (or resources) you are economizing. When it comes to grammar, one of the ways to economize is through the use of contractions in English.
Apostrophes with Contractions in English
The meaning of a contraction is already implied by its name. That is, it is a word that is contracted in size by the removal of a letter or some letters. An apostrophe (‘) is inserted to represent the removal of these letters.
How to Use Contractions in English
Spoken English often uses contractions. But not so much in written English. Contractions are used in informal writing. This is because of the feelings of accessibility and warmth that contractions in English help convey.
Verbs often come in contracted form, too. Look at the following examples, and take note how most of these contractions are used in common English speech.
Verbs with not
- are not = aren’t
- do not = don’t
- was not = wasn’t
- were not = weren’t
Pronouns with will
- I will = I’ll
- you will = you’ll
- she will = she’ll
- they will = they’ll
Nouns and pronouns with the verb be
- I am = I’m
- you are = you’re
- who is = who’s
- Mark is = Mark’s
Pronouns with would
- I would = I’d
- he would = he’d
- we would = we’d
- they would = they’d
Although, there is an exception to this rule: “will not” becomes “won’t” in contracted form.
It’s and Its
A lot of people often confuse these two words, specifically, how to properly use them. First of all, it’s is actually a contraction for it is or it has. Take a look at the following examples:
- It’s been a year since I last went to the beach.
- She called to tell us that it’s been raining since yesterday.
- In a fight, it’s not always the strongest who wins.
On the other hand, its is a possessive pronoun. In other words, it shows ownership or possession:
- The cat stayed with its
- The dog tried to chase its
- A bird will try to build its nest close to a food source.
There, Their, They’re
These three similar-sounding words are another cause of confusion. Basically, they’re is a contraction for they are. For example:
- They’re climbing up the hill right now.
- Children will understand the meaning of sacrifice when they’re
- They’re the best at making people laugh.
On the other hand, their is a possessive pronoun. Like its, it is used to show ownership or possession.
- They just had their house renovated.
- None of the students had their assignments done.
- Contestants were asked to bring their own costumes.
Lastly, there is an adverb that denotes a place or location.
- We went there last week.
- When you get there, give me a call.
- If you are hungry, food is there on the table.
Informal Contractions in English
Informal contractions refer to those contractions accepted in spoken English, but not in written English, formal or informal. Similarly, they are also regarded as slang words, although they are not really slang. Informal contractions are written as they sound. That is, sometimes, the apostrophe is completely disregarded e.g. gonna, wanna, and gotta.
So, if you want to learn how to speak like a native English speaker, you have to pay attention to informal contractions. That is because they are used in casual conversation. However, when it comes to proper or formal speech, informal contractions should be avoided.
Now, without further ado, here are other informal contractions in English and how to use them:
Ain’t = am/are/is not
- I ain’t eating broccoli for breakfast.
- She ain’t aware of the gravity of the situation.
Betcha = bet you
- I betcha a hundred she’ll dump him at the end of the month.
- Betcha didn’t like the movie, did you?
C’mon = come on
- C’mon, I do not want to be late!
- You must be kidding, c’mon!
D’you = do you
- You don’t like cheese on your omelet, d’you?
- D’you read thrillers?
Dunno = do not know
- I dunno if I should go to camping with you.
Gimme = give me
- Gimme some of those.
- I didn’t know that Algebra would gimme such a hard time.
Gonna = going to
- She was gonna run for class president.
- I’m gonna sue that woman for libel!
Gotcha = got you
- Hey, I gotcha some apples.
Gotta = got a
- I gotta leave soon, I have a dentist appointment.
- Why you gotta be so rude?
Kinda = kind of
- We were kinda expecting the meeting to end early.
- Louise was kinda mad that no one told her about the party.
Lemme = let me
- Hey, lemme help you with that.
- Can you lemme have the last piece?
Oughta = ought to
- People oughta treat other people better.
Outta = out of
- We hurried straight outta school when we heard about the accident.
Shoulda = should have
- I shoulda asked her out when I still had the chance.
Sorta = sort of
- The truth is, I sorta tried how to bake yesterday, and I failed.
Tell’em = tell them
- You gotta tell’em when they’re stepping out of bounds!
- Tell’em to stop making such noise or else, I’m gonna whoop their ass!
Wanna = want to
- I wanna dance with somebody!
Whatcha = what are you
- Hey, whatcha doing right now?
Woulda = would have
- They woulda come for you first, had you not come for them.
Ya = you/ you are
- Ya better take this seriously if you wanna continue to university.
As shown above, these are just some of the many informal contractions in English. Of course, there are a lot of them, so if you happen to know or encounter more, please do share them with us in the comments.
Meanwhile, are you ready for a short test to see how well you’ve understood this lesson? Look at the following sentences, then fill in the blanks with either it, it’s, there, their, or they’re.
- __________ sitting by the lakeside.
- __________ okay to drink alcohol once in a while.
- I saw a pack of ducklings over __________.
- Sometimes, __________ best if we stay quiet.
- A wolf will never leave __________ pack.
Ready to see how well (or how badly) you’ve fared? Here are the answers.
- They’re sitting by the lakeside.
- It’s okay to drink alcohol once in a while.
- I saw a pack of ducklings over there.
- Sometimes, it’s best if we stay quiet.
- A wolf will never leave its pack.
We love to stay connected
Get the latest on learning the English language, travel, entertainment, and leisure.