Is there a contraction for "I was"?

There are contractions for "I am" (I'm), "I will" (I'll), "I have" (I've), "I would" (I'd), and yet the simple past tense seems conspicuously missing. Why is that? Does that reasoning apply to "I did" and "I had" as well?

  • The present tense is probably used more often in conversation, so gets first call on abbreviated forms. And there aren't that many available: duplication would be confusing (he's is bad enough). I'd been for I had been etc shows that there is no general ban on contractions for past constructions. Dec 5, 2015 at 10:35
  • Note that the question doesn't mention whether the contraction is written or spoken. There certainly is no official written contraction, but that doesn't mean that I was is never contracted or reduced in speech. Quite the contrary; /awz/ is quite commonly interpreted as I was in /awzdʒɨs'livɨn/ 'I was just leaving'. Jul 28, 2023 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


There is no natural/common abbreviation of "I was".

A person speaking with extreme slang, and an affected accent, might say "I's garn down town when I saw dis babe", but usage would be rare.

  • 2
    Isn't I's slang for 'I am' rather than 'I was'? Dec 4, 2015 at 9:34
  • Can you give a sentence where it makes sense that way? I suspect that this will depend very much on local dialect. I could imitate a certain accent and say the sentence I gave to anyone I know locally, and they would know it means "I was going to town when I saw this lady". That said, the kind of person that speaks that way is reasonably rare. I would stand by by initial sentence, which is that there isn't a common normal use abbreviation. Dec 4, 2015 at 9:38
  • 'Don't have ta curse the ground I's walkin' onforfear ofsteppin' in harm's way.' {lyrics from an article on this webpage}. ''Fore I realize, I's walkin' and talkin' through recent events, startin' with my first retreat, where we finds ...' And 'I's a playa, I's a mack, I love getting at these ladies.' Of course, tenses are so mangled it's hard to be certain. Dec 4, 2015 at 17:26
  • Yeah - good ones! As you suggest, I think there are examples of I am and I was in there :) And kind of in line with my speculation: this usage is quite regional (negro American). I would be hard pressed to find writing of the example I gave, because indigenous local slang is rarely if ever written down. Dec 4, 2015 at 21:59
  • @EdwinAshworth Isn't "I's" as you give it a contraction of "I is"?
    – Dan
    Dec 5, 2021 at 23:56

"I's" as a contraction of 'I was' is nonstandard and dialectal but nevertheless widely spoken and heard in my neck of the woods (West Country, England). For example,

"I's living in Salisbury before I moved here".

  • FWIW, I think this is a contraction of "I is" not "I was", and in the sentence you give has a different dialectic switch in the tense, "I is living in Salisbury before I moved here". So I'm not sure it really answers the question.
    – Fraser Orr
    Jul 29, 2023 at 4:11
  • @FraserOrr - Yes, though I reckon I've heard it both ways!
    – Dan
    Jul 30, 2023 at 7:55

Mark Twain used I'uz.

I'uz at de river in two minutes. Den I see a canoe, en I says dey ain't no use to drown myself tell I got to;

from Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain.

I assume it's pronounced something like [aɪəz], although not living in 19th century America, I can't say for sure.

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