Is it possible to write "'s" instead of "was" in a sentence or is completely wrong? For example:

She was at home yersterday.
She's at home yesterday.


The apostrophe + s is usually understood to mean a shortened form of is or has. It would not be understood to represent a different tense of be.

She's at home yesterday.

would be read as

She is at home yesterday.

which is incorrect.

(of course, the apostrophe can shorten other words as well, such as have, but that is not relevant to your question. Thank you, @bib.

  • 1
    +1 but I would say has instead of have. The elided form of have is 've as in I've or you've. – bib Jan 24 '14 at 17:40

No. That would mean 'She is at home yesterday', which is not grammatical.

'Was' does not combine with its subject in the way 'is' does.

It can, however be combined with 'it' to create ''Twas Wednesday morning, when I saw her', to correspond with ''Tis seven o'clock, and he's not here'. (But its a rather old-fashioned way of speaking.)


That wouldn't work because it can easily be confused with is.

If you look out how 's evolved as an abbreviation of is you will see that the strength of the vowel in is diminished. However, the vowel in was is still quite strong.

  • In colloquial speech, the vowel in was frequently all but disappears, too. There is still at least a hint of the w left, and the pronunciation ends up being something like [ʃiʊz] or [ʃɪʊz]. Not [ʃiz] or [ʃɪz], though, which is what she is -> she’s gives. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '14 at 17:54
  • Now that you point out, that's indeed the case. Thanks. – Å Stuart Jan 24 '14 at 17:56
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Possibly, in some English dialects, one might hear: "Sheez at 'ome yesterday." What say you? – Mari-Lou A Jan 24 '14 at 18:00
  • @Mari-LouA, I can’t think of any accents where the two would merge entirely. The difference between them might be minute (the tenseness or length of the vowel alone, or even the degree of labialness to the [ʃ], caused by the original w), but at least as far as I can think, there would always be some little difference. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '14 at 18:05

Although it would be grammatically incorrect, most readers would understand what you are trying to convey. I would regard this as acceptable slang, but I wouldn't use it in something serious like an essay.

  • 1
    I would imagine most people would mentally unpack that sentence as "She is at home yesterday," which would likely cause at least momentary confusion. Most people would ultimately get it, I'm sure, but the construction is ambiguous enough that it should not be used. – phenry Jan 24 '14 at 19:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.