E.g. “What’s he think?”

Usually ’s is short for “is” so I don’t know.

  • 1
    +1 because I didn't know it could also be "what does". :) – Alenanno Sep 12 '11 at 11:22
  • I just found that this contraction stands for what has.. – user43497 Apr 30 '13 at 22:55
  • 1
    @user43497, It's more likely to be a "does" in his sentence.... – Pacerier Oct 23 '14 at 16:55

The NOAD reports that 's is the informal contraction for:

  • is: "it's snowing"
  • has: "he's gone"
  • us: "let's do it"
  • does: "what's she do?"
  • 2
    A mildly interesting interjection: In spoken English (around me, at least) most people add a vowel sound between the word and the 's. So "What's she do?" would be pronounced "What-is she do?" (But not for other 's contractions: "What's she in for?" would be pronounced as written.) – Evan Cordell Sep 12 '11 at 20:45
  • 1
    @EvanCordell - I might sometimes hear "wha-tis she do" (never "what-is"), but I'd interpret the "tis" in "wha-tis" as the contracted "does" (and, in fact, one might argue that it sounds more like "dis" than "tis"). – Hot Licks Mar 22 '16 at 0:37
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    @EvanCordell Where exactly is 'around you'? I'm not being facetious, I'm genuinely interested. – BoldBen May 19 '18 at 22:19

It is certainly used in that way.

I don't regard the word "correct" as meaningful in this kind of question, so the answer to your question depends on what standard you choose to designate by "correct".

  • Agreed, kind of like asking about the correct use of "ain't"! – Codie CodeMonkey Sep 12 '11 at 22:58

This can be a contraction of "what does", but I'd generally consider it a "colloquial contraction" insofar as it's a bit of a colloquialism to say "what's" instead of "what does". Basically, if you're describing someone who's said "what's" to mean "what does", or emulating their style of speech, then it's OK. Otherwise, it's a rather quaint contraction and I'd recommend against it.

  • 8
    What does will always be a little unexpected, as in the joke "'Mister, I've lost my daddy.' 'Well, I'll have a look for him, sonny: what's he like?' 'Beer and women.'" – Tim Lymington supports Monica Sep 12 '11 at 12:53
  • I’d’ve thought a “colloquial contraction” sounds repetitious. – tchrist Feb 23 '12 at 12:14
  • 3
    @Jez, Quaint? What's so quaint about reducing "what does it mean" to "what's it mean"? – Pacerier Oct 23 '14 at 16:56

As the NOAD reports cited above states, 's is the informal contraction for:

[1] is: "it's snowing" --this is the primary use. Here it would be pronounced /its/, even though "is" by itself is pronounced /iz/. [2] has: "he's gone" -- this is less common than the "is" meaning, but hardly rare. Since "has" is also usually pronounced /haz/, this 's would have a /z/ sound to distinguish it from 's = is. [3] us: "let's do it" -- less common than the "has" meaning, and not often used except with "let". "Us' has the /s/ sound, so "let's" would be pronounced /lets/. [4] does: "what's she do? -- not unknown, but not very common. Although "does" is usually pronounced /duz/, "what's" here would be pronounced /hwats/. (Like "it" in the first example above, "what" ends in an unvoiced plosive /t/--I believe that what "t" would be called in this case--so the following "s" would be an unvoiced /s/-sound, not a voiced /z/-sound. I hasten to add that I am not an expert in phonetics.)

protected by Community Jun 10 '18 at 23:16

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