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Is "that'd" an appropriate contraction of "that" and "would"? I say it, but I'm not sure if it's a legitimate contraction in written form.

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I also often hear "that've" as a contraction of "that would have". For example, "That've been great if we would have thought of it" . –  user57279 Nov 13 '13 at 9:57

7 Answers 7

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There are many incidences of that’d meaning “that would” in the Corpus of Contemporary American English:

SPOKEN    208  (2.39/million words)
FICTION   384  (4.7/million words)
MAGAZINE   58  (0.67/million words)
NEWSPAPER  48  (0.57/million words)
ACADEMIC    3  (0.04/million words)
TOTAL     701  (701/million words)

It is most common in spoken English and fiction, so the idea that it’s more for informal registers has merit.

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4  
Note that "that'd" may also be the contraction of "that" with "had". Example: "That'd happened before my time." –  b.roth Sep 19 '10 at 17:29
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@Bruno you make a reasonable point. I updated the statistics to exclude cases like that. There were very few cases in COCA where that’d means “that had”, so my overall point I think is still valid. –  nohat Sep 19 '10 at 18:03

It is certainly acceptable in the sense that any native speaker would understand it. So, I think that would characterize it as legitimate. In formal writing, most contractions are avoided anyway — though if I were somewhere between formal and informal, I would definitely get rid of that'd before I would get rid of it's. So it is on the "more informal" end of the contraction formality spectrum.

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It would certainly be acceptable in written dialogue—as you point out, you say it, so it can be written as a representation of what you/a character says.

With text being used more and more for conversation—i.e., chatting and informal emails—I would consider that'd to be acceptable in casual text-based conversation but not in formal letters, papers, etc.

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Insofar as any contractions are suitable for formal written English, I'd put "that'd" towards the more casual end of the spectrum.

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I've seen that sometimes, and it have always confused me. I'd think that it (ignoring how contractions are normally written in English) really should be spelled "that'ould" or "that'ud" (or more phonetically "that'ed" / "that'wd") because I cannot understand how you'd pronounce that without at least a schwa sound between the t and the d (it's the same consonant unvoiced and voiced). I'm not a native speaker, but if you are and can pronounce it without a sound between the t and the d, while it still is possible to make out both consonants; I'd love to hear it. That'd be impressive ;)

I think contractions are sometimes over used in English, words in all languages are contracted when speaking but it doesn't need to be written like that. In my language, Norwegian, i would pronounce "Det er ikke det" (meaning "That's not it" or "It's not that") as (using Norwegian informal phonetic spelling) as [dæk:ede:] but if we wrote it "D'er'ke det" or something like that it would be really hard to understand.

I'd recommend not contracting it in any case unless you're deliberately trying to represent slurred/sloppy/vulgar speech in a quote for humorous effect. (I think I've only seen it as lines for characters in Terry Pratchett novels; but he also write stuff like "I ate'nt dead" for comedic purposes)

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I went with "that'd" based upon: "I" + "would" = "I'd". Fancy thinking that English words should actually be spelled phonetically though :-) –  travis Dec 15 '10 at 16:48

I actually use 'that'd' quite often when speaking and pronounce it as, "thad"...kind of like short for Thadeus. Since everyone seems to know, or at least pretend to know what I'm saying I would have to assume that 'that'd' is an actual word and that I was saying it correctly. (though maybe it is just a slang word?)

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If you'd read the answers, you'd know whether "that'd" is an actual word and/or slang. This might help explain for the down-vote from the ELU community user. You can always edit your answer, even adding links to back up your claim. I personally thought your way of pronouncing that'd as thad (do you know of others who pronounce it similarly?) added an interesting and worthy note. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 11 '13 at 8:30

I guess it's one of those words americans (no offense or racism at all) "invent" on the go. One of those millions of contractions you can find throughout the internet. Nothing more.

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It's not an American thing. I hear it (and say it) all the time in Britain. –  toryan Nov 15 '13 at 22:23

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