Contractions

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

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.

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