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In my experience, people say "it's" in place of "it is," but never in the form of a question. I think the question "It's?" sounds awkward, but I'd like to know if it's grammatically correct. Is it?

This question was inspired by this image on Merriam-Webster's website: It's used as a question

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Jul 20 '15 at 10:26

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  • "I'm?," "She's," and "He's," etc., I believe, are ungrammatical. – Toad22222 Jul 20 '15 at 5:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can only contract auxiliary verbs, and never at the end of the sentence, where they would gain stress and therefore not be subject to reduction:

  • He’s sleeping in today.
  • I’ve got something to tell you.

However, these are not auxiliary verbs but principal ones falling at the end, and therefore may not be contracted:

  • I know where he is.
  • You must be wondering what I have.

The contracted forms are ungrammatical there:

  • I know where *he’s.
  • You must be wondering what I’ve.
  • Nice generalisation, but the rule against weak forms and therefore contractions is not to do with stress, just to do with stranding. For example in reply to the question "Who's coming?", someone is likely to answer "I am!". Here the auxiliary isn't stessed but still cannot partake in a contraction. "I'm" is ungrammatical there. – Araucaria Jul 20 '15 at 9:28
  1. *It's? (ungrammatical)
  2. It is? (grammatical)

In English every utterance must have at least one stressed syllable.

In example (1) we see a contraction of the words it and is. However we can only contract the word is when it isn't stressed. Because this is a one word utterance and every utterance must have a stressed syllable, this word must be stressed. And because it's stressed, this contraction is ungrammatical.

Sentence (2) is fine, because the word is can be stressed when it isn't contracted. We would normally pronounce this question like this :

  • It is?

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