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: Coordinate Order; 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.