Common Contractions

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The suggestion for the creation of this list was because a fellow forum friend from a now deceased forum asked me to create it. I painstakingly went page by page through the dictionary to compile this list. I had fun doing it and yes I am weird like that LOL.

What exactly is a contraction in the literary world? First off, let's not confuse contractions with abbreviations. Abbreviations are a shortened version of any one (1) word, usually using only the beginning part of the word. Example: Ad = Advertisement. A contraction is the joining of two (2) words with, usually, the second word missing letters and replaced with an apostrophe. Below is a list of contractions.

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What is Acceptable and What's Not!

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Ain't: This is a slang contraction of am not, are not, is not, has not, have not. In some circles it is considered a 'lazy mans' word. The word 'ain't' is not a real word, despite it creeping into dictionaries. It is only in the dictionaries because it is so commonly used. Just because it is commonly used does not make it acceptable. It is not a proper word and should not be used in normal, everyday speech.
So, when is a good time to use the word? One perfect reason is if you have a character who speaks bad English; meaning they are poorly educated for whatever reason or just picked up some bad speaking habits and can't be bothered speaking properly. Another acceptable time for a character to use it is when they are being silly and joking around; I know I've done it.

Alright: Despite being common, it is still debated as to whether or not this is an acceptable contraction. It is also a rare contraction that doesn't use an apostrophe.

Aren't: This is an acceptable contraction of are not.

Can't: This is an acceptable contraction of can not.

Couldn't: This is an acceptable contraction of could not.

Daren't: This is an acceptable contraction of dare not.

Didn't: This is an acceptable contraction of did not.

Don't: This is an acceptable contraction of do not.

Hasn't: This is an acceptable contraction of has not.

Haven't: This is an acceptable contraction of have not.

He'd: This is an acceptable contraction of he had, he would.

He'll: This is an acceptable contraction of he shall, he will.

He's: This is an acceptable contraction of he has, he is.

I'd: This is an acceptable contraction of I had, I should, I would. While the last two are acceptable contractions, they sound untidy. Look at the word that follows should or would as, maybe, they should be the ones to be contracted. User's choice after all.

I'll: This is an acceptable contraction of I will. It being the contraction for I shall is also listed in the dictionary but I have to admit that it just sounds too weird to want to use it for that particular contraction. Try it in a sentence and see what I mean. User's choice after all.

I'm: This is an acceptable contraction of I am.

Isn't: This is an acceptable contraction of is not.

It'd: This is an acceptable contraction of it had, it would. While it is acceptable, it's another one that sounds weird to me.

I've: This is an acceptable contraction of I have.

Let's: This is an acceptable contraction of let us.

Ma'am: This is an acceptable contraction of madam. This contraction is an exception to the rule of 'two words into one'. By taking out the middle letter, it has been contracted (made shorter).

Mayn't: This is an acceptable contraction of may not even though it isn't commonly used.

Mightn't: This is an acceptable contraction of might not.

Mustn't: This is an acceptable contraction of must not.

Needn't: This is an acceptable contraction of need not.

Ne'er: This is an acceptable contraction of never. This contraction is an exception to the rule of 'two words into one'. By taking out the middle letter, it has been contracted (made shorter). This contraction is usually used in poetry and, on the odd occasion, in writings.

Oughtn't: This is an acceptable contraction of ought not even though it isn't commonly used.

She'd: This is an acceptable contraction of she had, she would.

She'll: This is an acceptable contraction of she shall, she will.

She's: This is an acceptable contraction of she is, she has.

That'll: This is not an acceptable contraction of that will. While it is not in the dictionary I have seen it creep into documents - mostly stories. For use in stories, the only time I would think it be acceptable is if the character is either low to no educated or is lazy in their speech pattern. The better the education of the character, the less likely they are to use it.

That's: This is not a normal contraction that is not listed in the dictionary and not used by itself. One acceptable use is as follows: 'that's that'. Although, it has been used by Porky Pig in his sign off "That's all folks". Other instances have been heard, depending on where one wants to emphasise what they are trying to say: "That's not what I mean.", instead of "That isn't what I mean." Try it in a sentence and see what I mean. User's choice after all.

There'd: This is an acceptable contraction of there had, there would.

There'll: This is an acceptable contraction of there shall, there will.

There's: This is an acceptable contraction of there has, there is.

They'd: This is an acceptable contraction of they had, they would.

They'll: This is an acceptable contraction of they shall, they will.

They're: This is an acceptable contraction of they are.

They've: This is an acceptable contraction of they have.

'Tis: This is an acceptable contraction of it is. This contraction differs from the norm by having the apostrophe at the beginning rather than in the middle or near the end. In a word processor, you must type a letter first then the apostrophe then the rest of the word. Eg: t'tis. This is so the apostrophe is facing the right direction. Then you delete that letter before the apostrophe so the word looks correct. However, word processors might classify 'tis as wrong if you start your sentence with it and make that t as a capital.

'Twas: This is an acceptable contraction of it was. This contraction differs from the norm by having the apostrophe at the beginning rather than in the middle or near the end. In a word processor, you must type a letter first then the apostrophe then the rest of the word. Eg: t'twas. This is so the apostrophe is facing the right direction. Then you delete that letter before the apostrophe so the word looks correct. However, word processors might classify 'twas as wrong if you start your sentence with it and make that t as a capital.

We'd: This is an acceptable contraction of we would. It being the contraction for we should is also listed in the dictionary but I have to admit that it just sounds too weird to want to use it for that particular contraction. Try it in a sentence and see what I mean. User's choice after all.

We'll: This is an acceptable contraction of we will. It being the contraction for we shall is also listed in the dictionary but I have to admit that it just sounds too weird to want to use it for that particular contraction. Try it in a sentence and see what I mean. User's choice after all.

We're: This is an acceptable contraction of we are.

Weren't: This is an acceptable contraction of were not.

We've: This is an acceptable contraction of we have.

Who's: This is an acceptable contraction of who is, who has.

Wouldn't: This is an acceptable contraction of would not.

You'd: This is an acceptable contraction of you had, you would.

You'll: This is an acceptable contraction of you shall, you will.

You're: This is an acceptable contraction of you are.

You've: This is an acceptable contraction of you have.

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Just a finishing note here. Just because it is in the dictionary doesn't make it right. Sound it out to yourself, even write it in a sentence. One sentence with the non contracted version and one sentence with the contracted version.

If you doubt what I say then just look at the contracted word 'ain't'. The word is bad English but it has made its way into the dictionary but that still doesn't make it correct.

Remember, what I have provided here is just the tip of the literary iceberg. Who knows. maybe the information here will grow as time goes by :) Write, have fun with words and remember even words like 'ain't' still have a place in stories.

And best of all. enjoy.