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Contractions

A contraction is a word or phrase that’s (or that has) been shortened by dropping one or more letters. In writing, an apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters.

We rely on contractions all the time in normal conversations. As Ben Yagoda says in The Sound on the Page (Harper, 2004), “In speech, there is an expectation that anyone who’s not prissy or pretentious or is emphasizing a point will use [contractions] whenever possible.”

Some people are under the impression that contractions should never appear in writing, but this belief is mistaken. The use of contractions is directly related to tone. In informal writing (from text messages and blogs to memos and personal essays), we often rely on contractions to maintain a colloquial tone. In more formal writing assignments (such as academic reports or term papers), avoiding contractions is a way of establishing a more serious tone.

Before deciding whether to use contractions in a writing assignment, consider your audience and your purpose for writing.

In the table below you’ll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.

Standard Contractions in English
aren’t are not
can’t cannot
couldn’t could not
didn’t did not
doesn’t does not
don’t do not
hadn’t had not
hasn’t has not
haven’t have not
he’d he had; he would
he’ll he will; he shall
he’s he is; he has
I’d I had; I would
I’ll I will; I shall
I’m I am
I’ve I have
isn’t is not
It’s it is; it has
let’s let us
mightn’t might not
mustn’t must not
shan’t shall not
she’d she had; she would
she’ll she will; she shall
she’s she is; she has
shouldn’t should not
that’s that is; that has
there’s there is; there has
they’d they had; they would
they’ll they will; they shall
They’re they are
they’ve they have
we’d we had; we would
We’re we are
we’ve we have
weren’t were not
what’ll what will; what shall
what’re what are
what’s what is; what has
what’ve what have
where’s where is; where has
who’d who had; who would
who’ll who will; who shall
who’re who are
Who’s who is; who has
who’ve who have
won’t will not
wouldn’t would not
you’d you had; you would
you’ll you will; you shall
you’re you are
you’ve you have

http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/EnglishContractions.htm

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