A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters.

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56
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11answers
23k views

Is “I'd've” proper use of the English language?

While reading a book, I came across the word I'd've, as in: I'd've argued against it. While it was obvious what it meant, it left me puzzled. Is I'd've a proper word?
30
votes
8answers
7k views

Is it appropriate to use short form of “have” ('ve) when it means possession?

I feel uncomfortable saying sentences like the following: "I've a car" instead of "I have a car" "They've a great time" instead of "They have a great time" "He's a pen" instead of "He has a pen" ...
29
votes
6answers
23k views

What is “won't” a contraction of?

"Don't", "wouldn't", "couldn't" and "isn't" are all contractions of "do not", "would not", "could not" and "is not"... So what's "won't" a contraction of? It appears to be "will not", but if so, why ...
28
votes
13answers
10k views

Can a word be contracted twice (e.g. “I'ven't”)?

I've seen a contraction of two words. I can't see why it wouldn't be possible to contract twice. Is it possible and how should it be punctuated? Update: Ok, to sum up the answers so far This ...
27
votes
4answers
10k views

How to pronounce the programmer's abbreviation “char”

In many programming languages, char is a type name for character values. The word character is pronounced with a [k] sound, but what about char? While trying to find the answer elsewhere, I learnt ...
27
votes
6answers
5k views

Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction “it's”?

I heard this lyric in a song the other day and it just sounded so wrong that I assumed it must be incorrect grammar, but I can't find any specific prohibition that applies. That's what it's. ...
22
votes
5answers
49k views

Is “there're” (similar to “there's”) a correct contraction?

Q: "Do you have any juice?" A: "Yes, there's some in the fridge." Sounds perfectly fine to me, but: Q: "Do you have any towels?" A: "Yes, there's some in the closet." Does not. I asked ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

Are contractions of “I am” or “I would” rude? [closed]

I got edited on Stack Overflow because I used "I'm", "you're" and "I'd" instead of "I am" etc. Is it considered rude to use contractions like that in informal conversations on the internet? I would ...
21
votes
5answers
60k views

“Do's” and “don'ts” or “do's” and “don't's”?

I am making a list to my children telling them what are some of the things they should do and shouldn't. Under one side is "do", and the other is "don't". Would I write "do's" and "don't's"? Cause ...
18
votes
3answers
36k views

“Let's” vs. “lets”: which is correct?

Say I'm promoting a product. Which is correct? [Product] let's you [do something awesome]. [Product] lets you [do something awesome]. Or neither?
17
votes
4answers
6k views

What phrase is “o'clock” contracting?

I have been intrigued by the word o'clock since I learned English. Although there is an equivalent to this word in my native language (Spanish en punto meaning on point or on the dot) I want to know ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Can the “don't” contraction be expanded when used as a command?

I refer to the usage of "don't" as an imperative to tell someone what not to do. As in, Hey! Don't you dare touch that button! When it is used in the interrogative or as part of a statement, ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it incorrect to say, “Why cannot…?”

At any point in history was "Why cannot...?" used as frequently as "Why can't...?" Is it even grammatically correct to say "Why cannot you do this?" I know it can be rearranged to be "Why can you not ...
14
votes
7answers
17k views

“that” + “would” = “that'd”?

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.
13
votes
5answers
22k views

“Y'all” or “ya'll”?

I've seen it spelled both ways. Are both correct?
13
votes
2answers
315 views

Appropriate title case: 'em or 'Em or 'EM

It's a common practice to capitalize headings/titles of articles. But is there a correct or conventional way to capitalize words in titles that are apocopated apheresed at the beginning? E.g. ...
12
votes
3answers
13k views

Were contractions less common in olden days?

We just viewed the new movie True Grit. The language of the characters was more formal sounding than we are used to, largely because of the absence of contractions. Is this historically accurate? Do ...
12
votes
5answers
6k views

Using contracted forms (“don't”, “let's”) in a formal text

How compelled should I feel to use non-contracted forms (do not rather than don't and so on) when writing in a rather formal text, say an academic paper? In one case I am afraid to seem too stilted, ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Do Americans say “don't” as often as the British?

this is really a question for Americans. When watching US TV or films, it's often my impression that, while using all the other contractions, Americans don't seem so keen on 'don't', but use 'do not' ...
11
votes
3answers
408 views

Expanding a contraction, where the expansion is not as it would seem

Consider these two sentences, one with a contraction, one without: I didn't check my voicemail. I did not check my voicemail. didn't is expanded to did not. Now consider: Why didn't ...
10
votes
2answers
929 views

What is the uncontracted form of “won't ever”?

I read in a book lately: This is my home and it won't ever be the same again. I was wondering whether the proper uncontracted form would be: This is my home and it will not ever be the same ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

“Your” vs. “you're”: Why the confusion?

I have seen many comments on different blogs and forums where English native speakers spelled you're as your. I'm not a native speaker, but I know and understand the difference between the two. Why is ...
10
votes
4answers
485 views

Is it okay to say and write “ain't” yet?

Over 10 years ago saying "ain't" was discouraged but it was gaining momentum. What happened? Seems like it's still discouraged. Maybe in another 10 years?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the 18th century contraction “on't” survive phonologically in English today?

The February 18th-24th edition of The Economist has an article titled "Neurons v free will" in which the author, Anthony Gottlieb begins by quoting Dr. Johnson's statement about free will: "Sir ...
9
votes
7answers
6k views

Is “Don't you know? ” the same as “Do not you know?”?

Well, we know don't is the same as do not, right? Therefore, can I say "Do not you know?", instead of "Don't you know?"? Well, I know that chances are I can't do that, but technically that should be ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Different pronunciations of “she's” depending on the meaning

According to The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, the contraction she's may be pronounced both with a short [i] sound(as in pit) and a long [i:] sound(as in sheep) when it means she is, but it ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Word for describing someone whose name is the opposite of what they are?

I was wondering if there is a word to describe someone whose name is diametrically oppossed to who they are. For instance a firefighter whose last name is Arson or a swimmer whose last name is Dry.
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Why is “Why don't you like ___?” okay, but “Why do not you like?” ___?“ isn't?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is “Don't you know? ” the same as “Do not you know?”? "Why don't you like?" seems commonly used, but I never hear "Why do not you like?" ...
9
votes
4answers
5k views

“It isn't” vs. “it's not”

Is one stronger than the other? More correct? Just curious, one of the many abstract things to pop into my head on the drive home today...
9
votes
1answer
382 views

When did “ain't” become slang?

In Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, there are several places where "ain't" is used instead of "am not", such as: "I ain't afraid of him, if you mean that," continued Lord Nidderdale. — ...
9
votes
2answers
389 views

How was “ben't” used, and when did it cease to be used?

In Jane Austen's The Watsons, the maid of the titular family utters the following sentence: "Please, ma'am, master wants to know why he ben't to have his dinner?" I have never encountered ben't ...
9
votes
3answers
348 views

Is there a word/term for a “super-contraction”

I am doing some informal research into dynamic speech and narrative generation, and I've been looking into some local colloquialism and having a little bit of difficultly classifying a set of them. I ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Apostrophes in contractions: shan't, sha'n't or sha'nt?

I came across the word sha'n't when reading Winnie the Pooh the other day and it cast me into a Thoughtful Mood concerning the Appropriate Spelling of this word. This word is a contraction of "shall ...
9
votes
2answers
376 views

Is there a rule for when contractions are not possible? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction “it's”? In conversing with non-native English speakers online, I saw someone type: ...
8
votes
6answers
4k views

Difference in pronunciation between “your” and “you're”?

I'm a native English speaker (Texas counts, I suppose), and I pronounce "your" to rhyme with "core", and "you're" to rhyme with "cure". Is it just me or did I pick this up somewhere?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the possessive form of “y'all”?

I generally hear y'alls's used as the possessive form, but I have also heard yourn. Since y'all is a colloquial pronoun, its possessive form is basically liberated from prescriptive linguistics which ...
8
votes
2answers
225 views

Is there an exception to the prohibition against ending a sentence with “ ’s ” at work here?

The ’s can be used as a contraction representing a weak, unstressed word that is not pronounced. It allegedly cannot occur in sentence final position. She is not ready, but he is. She’s not ...
8
votes
2answers
16k views

Do contractions (e.g. “don't”) and full phrases (e.g. “do not”) have the same meaning?

What is the difference between "don't" and "do not" in the English literature as well as spoken English? Are they same? The same question goes for "wouldn't" and "would not", "couldn't" and "could ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Word contractions in Shakespeare's plays

In Shakespeare's plays it is common to find contracted words, such as "o'er", "e'en", "sulph'uous", "ta'en". Is it just a literary device or those words were actually pronounced (in day-to-day speech) ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

Does “you're” also qualify as a valid contraction for “you were”?

If not, is there a way to write "you were" in a short form?
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between “I haven't” and “I've not” etc

If I have three consecutive words where each adjacent pair can be contracted, e.g. "I would have" or "You are not", is there a difference between the two possible contractions, e.g. "I would've" or ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Why would you write “ain't”? Isn't it a contraction only used in spoken English?

I often hear in English conversation or movies the contraction "ain't" (for "isn't"), but I am more surprised to see it in writing (and I am not referring to a novel, where I can understand its usage: ...
7
votes
1answer
31k views

When to use “cannot” versus “can't”?

When is it best to write "can't" versus writing "cannot"? Are they interchangeable in every situation?
7
votes
1answer
731 views

With the phrase “good night” do you have to use an apostrophe before the word “night” if you are to omit the use of “good?”

Am I actually contracting the phrase by omitting "good" from it, hence the need for the use of an apostrophe?
6
votes
8answers
878 views

“I'd-a lost”? What does this contraction stand for?

The first lines of George Thorogood's version of "One bourbon, one scotch, one beer": Wanna tell you a story about the houseman blues. I come home one Friday, had to tell the landlady I'd-a ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

Is “what’s” a correct short form of “what does”?

E.g. “What’s he think?” Usually ’s is short for “is” so I don’t know.
6
votes
3answers
6k views

How can we distinguish between “I would” and “I had” if someone says “I'd”?

How can we unambiguously distinguish between I would and I had, if the native English speaker used the contraction I'd? For instance, I'd read the newspaper. We can mean the above sentence as either ...
6
votes
1answer
11k views

“Do you not” vs. “Don't you”

I live in the UK and I mostly hear people saying Don't you..., but some people say: Do you not...? What is the difference and which one is more correct? You can put any example really. Something ...
6
votes
5answers
443 views

Can “I are” be shortened to “I're”?

I just received a message containing "I're": Glad April and I're so different. I've never seen this used before (I suppose as it's so unnecessary, saving just one character when writing) yet I ...
6
votes
1answer
166 views

Should a contraction taken from the center of a word have two apostrophes? [closed]

I'm currently reading Entrepreneur Magazine, and there is a story profiling a 13-year-old who created a series of stickers to embellish Lego blocks. The subtitle of the story reads A pint-size ...