Contractions

Use Contractions when Speaking

Contractions are shortened forms of words. When one or more letters are left out an apostrophe ( ) is used as a replacement. One important reason that we do this is to make our speech flow more easily.

English first speakers use contractions, most of the time. The main exceptions occur when we want to emphasize a word. If you aren’t using contractions your speech will sound robotic or computer generated. It’s a good idea to learn the contractions and use them as often as possible.

An apostrophe is used in contractions to take the place of one or more letters.

  1. I didn’t go to the store.
  2. I didn’t watch television last night.
  3. I did not steal your money.

Notice a contraction was not used in #3, above, to emphasize the word “not”.

Standard Contractions in English

The following are contractions commonly used when speaking Canadian or American English; however, if you are writing a formal letter you may not want to use these contractions.

Some of these contractions are used only when the verb is an auxiliary verb or part of the auxiliary verb and must be followed by another verb. Those contractions are identified in the “Long Form” list, so be aware of them.

 

Contraction

 

 

Long Form

 

Aren’t

They aren’t home now.

Aren’t I invited to the party?

Are not / am not (when used in a question)

They are not home now.

Am I not invited to the party? 

Can’t

I can’t remember her name.

Cannot (+ verb)

 I cannot remember her name. 

Could’ve

I could’ve helped, if you needed me.

Could have (used in conditional sentences) (+ verb)

I could have helped, if you needed me. 

Couldn’t

I couldn’t find my car keys.

Could not (+ verb)

I could not find my car keys.

Didn’t

I didn’t leave work early today.

Did not (+ verb)

I did not leave work early today.

Doesn’t

She doesn’t know the answer.

Does not (+ verb)

She does not know the answer. 

Don’t

I don’t know where he is.

Do not (+ verb)

 I do not know where he is.

Hadn’t

Tom hadn’t been to Australia before.  

Had not 

Tom had not been to Australia  before. 

Hasn’t

She hasn’t been to the doctor in a year. 

Has not

She has not been to the doctor in a year.

Haven’t

I haven’t got any money left.

Have not

 I have not got any money left.

He’d

He’d been sick for a week.

He’d help you if he wasn’t sick.

He had / He would (+ verb)

 He had been sick for a week.

He would help you if he was not sick.

He’ll

He’ll be home soon.

He will (+ verb)

He will be home soon.

He’s

He’s at home now.

He is

He is at home now.

How’d

How’d you wake up so early?

How did

How did you wake up so early?

How’ll

How’ll I find you in that crowd?

How will

How will I find you in that crowd? 

How’s

How’s he learn things so quickly?

How’s she been feeling?

How’s your friend, Bill?

How does / How has / How is

 How does he learn things so quickly?

How has she been feeling?

How is your friend, Bill?

I’d (+ verb)

I’d been cleaning before, I got tired.

I’d help you move, if my wife were home.

I had / I would (+ verb)

I had been cleaning the house, before I got tired.

 I would help you move, if my wife were home.

I’ll

I’ll meet you at the corner. 

I will (+ verb)

 I will meet you at the corner. 

I’m

I’m happy to meet you. 

(do not use at the end of a sentence)

I am 

I am happy to meet you. 

Are you happy? Yes, I am.

I’ve

I’ve seen that movie already.

I have (+ verb)

I have seen that movie already.

Isn’t

My brother isn’t home. 

Is not

My brother is not home.

It’d

It’d been raining all week.

It’d be great if I didn’t have to work. 

It had (+ verb) / It would (+ verb)

It had been raining all week.

It would be great if I did not have to work.

It’ll

It’ll rain tomorrow.

It will (+ verb)

It will rain tomorrow.

It’s

It’s been cold this week.

It’s cold today.

It has (+ verb) / It is (+ verb)

It has been cold this week.

It is cold today.

Let’s

Let’s go the bakery now.

(not used in questions)

Let us

Let us go to the bakery now.

Will the boss let us take our holidays at the same time?

Mightn’t

That mightn’t be your sister at the door.

Might not (+ verb)

That might not be your sister at the door.

Might’ve

 Tom might’ve been trying to phone you.

Might have (+ verb)

Tom might have been trying to phone you.

Mustn’t

You mustn’t open the door while I’m gone. 

Must not (+ verb)

You must not open the door while I am gone. 

Must’ve

I must’ve  forgotten my house keys at work.

Must have (+ verb)

I must have forgotten my house keys at work.

Needn’t

You needn’t help me, I can do it by myself. 

Need not (+ verb)

You need not help me, I can do it by myself.

Shan’t (rarely used)

I shan’t speak to her again. 

Shall not (+ verb)

I shall not speak to her again.

She’d

 She’d been sick before she went to see the doctor.

 She’d help if she could.

She had / She would (+ verb)

She had been sick before she went to see the doctor.

She would help if she could. 

She’ll

 She’ll lock the door before she goes to sleep. 

She will (+ verb)

She will lock the door before she goes to sleep.

She’s

She’s gone shopping.

She’s sleeping.

She has (+ verb) / She is

She has gone shopping.

She is sleeping.

Should’ve

I should’ve known better. 

Should have (+ verb)

I should have known better.

Shouldn’t

We should’nt disturb him while he’s working.

Should not (+ verb)

We should not disturb him while he is working.

That’d

That’d help your pronunciation. 

That’d be great.

That had / That would (+ verb)

That had to help your pronunciation. 

That would be great.

That’s

 That’s my favourite song.

That is

That is my favourite song.

There’d

 If there’d been a stop sign, the accident wouldn’t have taken place. 

There had 

If there had been a stop sign, the accident would not have taken place. 

There’ve

There’ve been many cold days this summer. 

There have (+ verb)

There have been many cold days this summer. 

There’s

There’s been rain every day this summer.

There’s your hat in the corner!

There has / There is

There has been rain every day this summer.

There is your hat in the corner!

They’d

 They’d seen her before noon.

They’d be happy with a small raise.

They had / They would (+ verb)

They had seen her before noon.

They would be happy with a small raise.

They’ll

They’ll meet you tonight.

They will (+ verb)

They will meet you tonight.

They’re

They’re happy to see you again.

They are

They are happy to see you again.

 

They’ve

They’ve been away for a week.

 

They have (+ verb)

They have been away for a week.

Wasn’t

Bill wasn’t at the office today.

Was not

Bill was not at the office today.

We’d

We’d been sleeping before the noise began.

We had (+ verb)

We had been sleeping before the noise began.

We’ll

I know when we’ll be happy.

We will (+ verb)

I know when we will be happy.

We’re

We’re shopping now.

We are

We are shopping now.

We’ve

 We’ve seen that movie already. 

We have (+ verb)

We have seen that movie already. 

Weren’t

The students weren’t happy when they received their final marks.

Were not 

The students were not happy when they received their final marks.

What’ll

 What’ll you do if it rains? 

What will

What will you do if it rains? 

What’re

 What’re you thinking about? 

What are

What are you thinking about? 

What’s

 What’s the matter with her?

What is

What is the matter with her?

What’ve

 What’ve you got in your pocket?

What have

What have you got in your pocket?

When’s

When’s Mary coming home? 

 When is

When is Mary coming home?

Where’d

 Where’d Tom go?

Where did

Where did Tom go?

Where’s

 Where’s Mario gone?

Where’s Mario?

Where has / Where is

Where has Mario gone?

Where is Mario?

Where’ve

Where’ve you been? 

Where have

Where have you been?

Who’ll

Who’ll you phone next? 

Who will (+ verb)

Who will you phone next? 

Who’d

 Did you ever find out who’d stolen your coat?

Who had (+ verb)

Did you ever find out who had stolen your coat?

Who’re

Who’re you? 

Who are

Who are you?

 

Who’s

Who’s got a coat that I can borrow?

Who’s at the door?

 

Who has / Who is

Who has got a coat that I can borrow? 

Who is at the door?

Why’s

Why’s he taken a bus today?

Why’s he angry?

Why has / Why is

 Why has he taken a bus today?

Why is he angry?

Won’t

 I promise I won’t lie to you. 

Will not (+ verb)

I promise I will not lie to you. 

Would’ve

 I would’ve ordered dessert if I wasn’t so full.

Would have (+ verb)

I would have ordered dessert if I was not so full.

Wouldn’t

I wouldn’t eat there again. 

Would not (+ verb)

I would not eat there again.

You’d

You’d better take your medicine. 

You had (+ verb) 

You had better take your medicine.

You’ll

Do you think that you’ll be home for supper?

You will (+ verb)

Do you think that you will be home for supper?

You’re

You’re incorrect.

You are

You are incorrect. 

You’ve

 I see you’ve done all of your homework. 

You have (+ verb)

I see you have done all of your homework. 

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