Contractions are two words that are joined by an apostrophe. Learn when it's appropriate to use contractions in your writing.
woman bungy jumping - contractions

Woman bungy jumping. Photo "Bungy Jump in Queenstown" by Staffan Anderson -

woman bungy jumping - contractions

What are Contractions?

Contractions are two words that are joined by an apostrophe. Examples:

  • It’s (for it is)
  • I’ll (for I will)
  • She’ll (for She will)
  • We’ll (for We will)
  • They’ll (for they will).

Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . cannot join any two words with an apostrophe. Instead, convention dictates that only a certain number of words can be joined as contractions.

Wikipedia provides an exhaustive list of English contractions.

Related Concepts: Diction; Punctuation; Register

Why Do Contractions Matter?

Contractions are used intimate, informal and semi formal occasions (see diction & rhetorical reasoning).

Use of contractions creates an informal tone, voice, and persona.

Contractions may also facilitate brevity, simplicity, and clarity, which are highly prized elements of style.

When Should I Use Contractions?

The presence or absence of contractions in a text is a measure of diction: you should use contractions only in intimate, informal, and semiformal rhetorical situations.

If you use contractions to communicate in formal situations, your readers, listeners, users . . . may infer that you tone, voice, or persona are not respectful or professional.