Can someone explain to me why sometimes V-ing like going is abbreviated into goin' or because into 'cause.

I don't understand when or how to use it in writing, especially in a novel (in dialogue). Often I see those in dialogue.

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    They are called elisions: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elision
    – user 66974
    Feb 2, 2020 at 13:53
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    'Cause as an abbreviation for because is common in colloquial speech. It's often written cos or even, more recently, cuz. Novelists sometimes try to represent a character's nonstandard speech in writing, for example 'ave for have. This was taken to extremes by some earlier writers portraying characters with regional accents, but it can make dialogue very difficult to read. Feb 2, 2020 at 15:22
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    It isn't really nonstandard. It's normal speech, or an attempt to approximate it in the reader's mind's ear. It's just not very close to the spelling. Spaces between words and every syllable pronounced because it is spelled is not the way people talk. Not even close. So in dialog writers sometimes try to reproduce the sound; that's better than imputing attitudes that the other characters can't observe. It's always better if the reader comes to the conclusion the writer wanted them to without wondering about how it happened. Feb 2, 2020 at 15:57
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    @user067531 No they aren’t. There is no /g/ sound in the word writing.
    – tchrist
    Feb 2, 2020 at 19:46
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    @tchrist - books.google.it/…
    – user 66974
    Feb 2, 2020 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Writing is ordinarily phonemic, not necessarily phonetic. Before a phonemic consonant cluster, tense /i:/ is ordinarily laxed to /i/, so you don't get */goi:ng/, but rather /going/. However, phonetically, after loss of the final /g/, [goi:n] is perfectly possible. In fact, this is my usual pronunciation of the -/ing/ ending.

-/in/ is a dialectal variant (which you could hear in some British dialects, like that of Lord Peter Wimsey).

  • Walkin' etc. is used in AmE too.
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2020 at 18:51
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    @Lambie, I didn't intend to imply otherwise.
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 2, 2020 at 18:56
  • So, using it on any V-ing in dialogue is fine? There's no rule for when it cannot be used? If I recall, if the noun itself is on V-ing, you don't abbreviate it right? Like, "Her smiling like that makin' his face followed in a smile." Feb 3, 2020 at 0:27
  • @GerryGiovan, So far as I know, the -ing suffix always works the same. There might be some question about "farthing", "mine tailings", "lemming".
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 3, 2020 at 1:19
  • @GregLee Thanks for telling me. That will help a lot. Feb 3, 2020 at 8:37

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