0

It may just be due to where I grew up, but I'm used to hearing phrases such as:

Amanda's out by the palm tree.

This would be interpreted as:

Amanda is out by the palm tree.

However, I'm not so sure this is correct, and I'm having a hard time researching the topic. When I write it down, it looks like I'm trying to say something belonging to Amanda is out by the palm tree due to the rules of possession, and whatever that item is has been lost between the lines of the page.

I'm aware that a contraction is the combination of two words to form another (e.g. "do" and "not" becoming "don't"). Does this apply to nouns and the word "is", or is this improper? If so, is how I'm writing it correct?


Is there a way to create a contraction between any noun and the word "is"?

3
  • The answers currently given don't address your last question, so I'll just point out that no, there is no way to create a contraction for any noun and the word "is". For example, we usually don't contract a word that ends in a sibilant with "is": *"Moses's staying home today." *"The mouse's in the wall." Jan 3 at 22:58
  • 1
    The is is reduced, just the same; only difference is that vowels aren't deleted between sibilants. Jan 3 at 23:02
  • @MarcInManhattan Updated my answer
    – siride
    Jan 4 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

5

Yes, you can say "Amanda's out of town". Any noun or noun phrase may be part of a contraction. For example, "the king of England's about to die".

One of the comments above says that you can't apply contractions after words that end in a sibilant (s, sh, z). I find that I still make a compromise contraction, with a schwa before the contracted verb instead. Your mileage may vary depending on dialect. It's probably best to avoid contractions in those cases though.

You may also not want to use these contractions in formal writing, but it's perfectly fine in speech and informal writing.

Your concern about confusion with the possessive construction doesn't usually manifest. In the example sentence, "out of town" is a prepositional phrase that cannot be possessed. In many other circumstances, "is" is part of a verb phrase, so there is also generally no confusion there: "Amanda's coming to play". While you could say that "Amanda's coming" is a noun phrase, the rest of the sentence does not contain a verb, or at least one that can take "Amanda's coming" as a subject, so there's no ambiguity.

You can also use 'll (from "will"), 's (from "has") and 'd (from "had" or "would") with nouns and noun phrases:

  • "Amanda'll be here in a few" ("Amanda will be here in a few")
  • "Amanda's already come over" ("Amanda has already come over")
  • "Amanda'd already eaten by the time we asked" ("Amanda had already eaten by the time we asked")
  • "Amanda'd like to eat soon" ("Amanda would like to eat soon")

All of these additional options, except for 's sound to my ears particularly informal. Note that 'll is still pronounced as its own syllable: "uh-MAN-duh-ull".

3
  • 1
    Also consider 'd for "would" (or "did"). Amanda'd like to eat now.
    – GEdgar
    Jan 3 at 22:00
  • 1
    @GEdgar What else do we know about Amanda?
    – siride
    Jan 3 at 22:26
  • 2
    Amanda’s suitcase is on the steps.
    – Xanne
    Jan 3 at 22:54
3

It's not a matter of "creating" a contraction: English speakers often render is as /s/ or /z/ (depending on the previous sound). They also often render has the same way when it is an auxiliary (though not usually when it is a full verb).

Spoken language is full of potential ambiguities: most of the time they are not actually ambiguous, because of context or prosody. When we apply the imperfect technology known as writing (more imperfect for English than for many languages, but always imperfect to some degree) there is more scope for ambiguity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.