My question is: Is there a contraction for the phrase 'it was'? Would this contraction be 't'was'? - Thanks

  • 5
    Forsooth 'twas common in yesteryear but since the age of the horseless carriage, methinks, it has fallen into desuetude. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 5:16
  • Any homework done?
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 5:21
  • 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe...
    – mplungjan
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 5:47
  • Except that nobody says 'twas in English except to quote something, or to make a joke. Or both. It's certainly not the contraction of it was in Modern English; normally what is say is something like /'ʔɪwəz/, without the /t/, but with /wəz/. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 13:24

3 Answers 3


'Twas on a Monday morning, the gas-man came to call...'. In the song 'The Gas Man Cometh', by Flanders and Swann, every verse begins "'Twas".

'Twould repay your reading the words if you are unfamiliar with it.


  • And, as usual, Flanders and Swann show off the humor possible in archaic syntax. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 13:25

In contractions, the apostrophe replaces the missing letters. "He is" becomes "he's" where the apostrophe replaces the "i". "Cannot" becomes "can't" where the apostrophe replaces the "no". In the case of "it was", there are no letters between "it" and "was". The apostrophe replaces the "i" and the correct contraction is 'twas.

'Twas a good question. See the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraction_(grammar) entry for "it" and you should also be able to find an entry for 'twas in your dictionary.


'T'was or t'was would indeed mean "it was", but it is not used nowadays. Using it might make you seem pretentious, trying to sound poetic or old-timey.

So, yes, there is a contraction for it, but it's not used anymore except for effect.

  • I used it as a literary device, but you are right. I probably should not have.
    – LiveMynd
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 5:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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