Possible Duplicate:
Were contractions less common in olden days?

I have read some old books in which they did not use "didn't", "wasn't", or similar contractions with "not". I just watched the recent movie "True Grit" in which they also didn't use "didn't", etc. Were these contractions a recent or regional addition to the language?

  • The recent True Grit was a remake of a John Wayne True Grit from 1969.
    – user11550
    Jan 9, 2012 at 6:42
  • The "exact duplicate" question refers to contractions in general, not "not". In that question, the only answer in reference to "not" contractions includes a dead link. A question closed as an exact duplicate should be answered in the duplicate. This one is not (isn't).
    – xpda
    Jan 9, 2012 at 15:46
  • So? You're even asking about the same movie.
    – user11550
    Jan 9, 2012 at 15:49
  • Read the first sentence. Even so, if every question in this site referred to a movie, it would not make those questions duplicates of one another.
    – xpda
    Jan 9, 2012 at 15:53
  • Goodness. The fundamentals of the questions are exactly the same, ergo yours is a dupe.
    – user11550
    Jan 9, 2012 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


Barren Brainerd published a paper - The contractions of not: A historical note.” Journal of English Linguistics 22:176-196 in 1989, in which he noted that the contraction of not first appeared in writing in 1700s, increased in 1800s, and were more or less accepted in 1900s.

The actual paper which Brainerd published is not accessible, but here is the source which talks about it. Refer to page 26.


The OED’s earliest citation for don’t under the entry for do is dated 1672 and for didn’t, 1775. The earliest citation for won’t under the entry for will is 1710.

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