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In a formal email of the kind where you begin with "Dear Mr. Surname" and finish with "Best regards", for example, should we use the following contractions? Or are the non contracted forms more appropriate?

  • We have -> We've
  • We would -> We'd
  • There is -> There's
  • etc.
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In formal writing, do not use contractions.

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That pretty much sums it up! :) –  Kosmonaut Nov 10 '10 at 15:19
Great, that's what I wanted to confirm. Let's wait to see if there are any other opinions here. Thanks –  b.roth Nov 10 '10 at 15:40
Why shouldn't one use contractions in formal writing? –  Alexandru Nov 11 '10 at 16:39

Giving blanket advice about contractions in "formal" writing is impossible because norms differ by discipline or purpose. When using contractions doesn't breach the specific governing norms, you should pursue the greatest clarity and concision, achieved by avoiding expanded verbs that are ordinarily contracted. I discuss this in depth in "The celebration of informality and the unsettled status of contractions."

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