Real Contractions 101: Understanding What a Contraction Is

Are you ready to dive into the mysterious world of contractions? No? Well, too bad, because we're doing it anyway. Fear not! We promise to keep things light and funny while still teaching you everything you need to know about these pesky little grammatical creatures.

Real Contractions 101: Understanding What a Contraction Is

What is a contraction?

Before we get started on the nitty-gritty details, let's first define what a contraction actually is. A contraction is simply two words that are joined together with an apostrophe, replacing one or more letters. For example:

  • "Cannot" becomes "can't"
  • "Do not" becomes "don't"

Seems simple enough, right? WRONG! There are rules and exceptions aplenty when it comes to using contractions properly.

The Good: Why Use Contractions

Contractions may seem like they exist solely for typographical convenience - after all, three fewer keystrokes never hurt anyone - but there are certain benefits that come with using them in your writing.

They Make Your Writing More Conversational

Using contractions can make your writing sound more casual and conversational. This can be particularly useful if you're trying to engage readers who might otherwise find your writing stuffy or dry (looking at you, academia).

They Save Space...Sometimes

If space is at a premium - say on Twitter where every character counts - then using contractions can help pack more meaning into fewer characters. Plus your tweeting thumb won't get as tired!

They Avoid Verbose Repetition

Continually repeating full phrases such as 'do not' several times in close proximity throughout text could become verbose and dull for any reader exasperating their reading experience. Furthermore repetition undermines the overall essence of good grammar inculcated from learners by vigorously instructing each ambiguous form of sentences hence promoting poor language skills instead of good ones. Contractions, alternatively promotes flexibility in expressing various statements as easy to understand.

The Bad: When Not To Use Contractions

While contractions can have their benefits, they're also not appropriate in every situation.

They Can Reduce Formality

When writing formally - for example, a report or academic paper - using contractions too frequently can come across as informal or even unprofessional. In formal communications like business letters or more scholarly articles limiting the use implying just very few but relevant and necessary occurrences where contractions are needed should be adhered to

They May Simplify Sentence Structure ​

The act of sentence simplification is essential when learning proper grammar. However over-relying on contractions at any given opportunity results in lousy syntax structure especially via speech communication with contemporaries due to ineffective communicable cues otherwise leading numerous linguistic ambiguities consequently losing touch with fellow comrades henceforth minimal exchange of critical ideas occurs increasing misunderstandings

They Indicate Casual Tone

​Finally, while conversational tone may be useful at times (depending on audience), particularly if one's attempting to build some comfortable foundation such that discussion feels less rigid and more friendly.. Serious matters require serious tone no matter the audience lest you want your reader or listener interpreting the meaning altogether as ill-prepared causing potential misunderstanding which could lead wrong implementations done

How To Know If You Should Use Them?

So how do you know whether you should include a contraction? We've got a few general rules below:

Rule 1: Informal Settings/Users Using a professional near-overcomplicated language formation might prove unnecessary when presenting informal writing situations particularly amongst peers either verbally or via text messaging It simply implies there is little harm going about frequent usage albeit keeping into consideration implications which other scenarios described elucidate. Contrarily in communicating an important message through verbal communication such as during medical emergencies it would seem inappropriate neglecting advanced language formation that would be comprehended by involved consortium.

The Exception

There is an exception to every rule, and this case is no different. Sometimes it's necessary to create a contraction even if it doesn't follow the usual rules.

For example:

  • "I have" becomes "I've"
  • "You will" becomes You'll" -​ Similarly in scientific text such as chemical naming where the abbreviation 'EtO' defines Ethylene Oxide

This is generally seen as acceptable because these contractions are so commonly used that they're considered part of standard English. Just don't get carried away and try to turn every combination of two words into a contraction!

Table Of Common Contractions

Now let's take a look at some common contractions you may come across (or use) in your writing journey:

Contraction Full Phrase
Aren't Are not
Can't Cannot
Couldn’t could not
Didn’t ​ ​ ​          ​     ​​                                                              Underscore ​​                 Undertail ​​ ​ ⁠Didn't Not Did not

Notice anything from our table? Some full phrases consist either or more positively phrased sentences thus helps dilute emotionally charged statements arising from negation-oriented occurrence.

Contrary however relying on tables only for guidance might prove unfruitful due with high chances of deriving wrong (and therefore misinterpreted terms) semblance especially when precise communication instructions couldn`t emphasized before-and-after deliberations made clear by the author may provide errant outcome.


Well there you have it, folks - everything you need to know about contractions! We hope that we've made the rules and exceptions a little bit clearer for you. Remember, always think about your audience and the situation when deciding whether to use contractions or not - and don't overdo it! Less is indeed more in terms of effective communication to your intended recipients.

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