A short guide to English contractions

 

orange tulips

We’ve grown hundreds of tulips in the garden this year.

A contraction (or short form) is an abbreviated form of a word or words: one from which one or more letters have been left out.

They’re very common in spoken English. For example, we usually pronounce words such as I am as I’m; it is as it’s; we are as we’re etc.

Contractions are also very common in informal written English.

In written English, the apostrophe ( ’ ) is used to replace the missing letter or letters.

For example:

is ’s

are ’re

am ’m

will ’ll

would ’d

has ’s

have ’ve

had ’d


Here are some examples of common English language contractions:

♦ aren’t – are not

We aren’t going on holiday this year.

♦ can’t – can not

I can’t find my English homework.

I’m sorry. I can’t come to the cinema on Friday.

♦ didn’t – did not

They didn’t remember my birthday.

hasn’t – has not

She hasn’t made up her mind about which course to take.

he’ll – he will

Do you think he’ll be home soon?

I’ll – I will

I’ll send you a postcard from New York!

I’m – I am

I’m seventy years old.

I’m hot – can you open the window, please?

it’s – it is

Question: What colour is your new car?

Answer: It’s blue.

♦ mustn’t – must not

You musn’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.

♦ needn’t – need not

You needn’t buy me a birthday present.

she’d – she would or she had

I wish she’d told me about her problems. (she had)

I wish he’d shut up! (he would)

she’d’ve – she would have. This has two apostrophes because letters have been left out from two places.

If she’d known about their cheap flights to America, she’d’ve booked her holiday with BA. (If she had known about their cheap flights to America, she would have booked her holiday with BA.)

she’ll – she will

I hope she’ll like her birthday present.

♦ shouldn’t – should not

You shouldn’t have spent so much money on shoes!

♦ that’ll – that will

That’ll be £5, please.

♦ they’re – they are

They’re getting married in September.

♦ they’ve – they have

They’ve bought a new house.

we’ll – we will or we shall

Question: When are you going on holiday?

Answer: We’ll be leaving on the 21st of August.

♦ we’re – we are

We’re going out for lunch today.

♦ we’ve – we have

We’ve grown hundreds of tulips in the garden this year.

won’t – will not

Question: Will you be going to Marcia and Tom’s party?

Answer: No, I won’t. I’m working.

♦ wouldn’t – would not

My dad wouldn’t let me drive his car.

♦ you’ll – you will

You’ll get cold if you don’t put a coat on.

♦ you’re – you are

You’re very clever.

 

And here are some more examples of short forms being used in sentences:

  • Who’ll be coming to your party? (Who will be coming to your party?)
  • What’s the time? (What is the time?)
  • Where’ve you put the newpaper? (Where have you put the newspaper?)
  • When’s Bob’s birthday? (When is Bob’s birthday?)
  • There’s a fly in my soup. (There is a fly in my soup)
  • What time’s the next bus? (What time is the next bus?)
  • My car’s blue. (My car is blue)
  • My daughter’s passed her exams. (My daughter has passed her exams)

 

Short forms at the end of sentences

We do not use the short forms ‘s, ‘re, ‘m, ‘ll, ‘d,  ‘s, and ‘ve at the end of sentences.

For example:

‘Have you been to Egypt?’

‘Yes, I have’ not ‘Yes, I’ve’.

 

 

Is this post useful? Do you have any questions about short forms?

Practise your English and leave a comment using a short form (or two) 🙂

 

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Angela Boothroyd

Angela Boothroyd

English language teacher at Botanical Linguist
Hi, I'm Angela, the Botanical Linguist, and I show learners of English how to become successful and self-directed or independent language learners. If you want to improve your English accuracy and fluency and learn everyday strategies and activities that will help you learn English without spending a lot of money on lessons, subscribe to my free newsletter here.
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd

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