One of the greatest double-edged swords for students is the contraction. While it is a relief to cut letters out of long words with multiple syllables, contractions require extra careful punctuation
. The shortest definition of a contraction is that it is a shortened word, syllable, or group of words. In practice, contractions are created by informally removing letters and sounds from words.
Learn More About Contractions
Contractions are mainly used in informal writing and speaking. There are other ways to shorten words, but the most common way to create a contraction is to replace a vowel with an apostrophe. Common examples include:
- I am → I’m
- Let us → let’s
- Not → …n’t
Sometimes, you will need to take out multiple letters, including consonants. Examples you have probably seen or heard before include:
- I will → I’ll
- He would/did/had → He’d
And sometimes, you might even have to spell words differently to create a contraction:
- Will not → won’t
- Am/is not → ain’t
One word of caution about contractions: you can’t have a contraction without an apostrophe, but don’t confuse a contraction with possession. You may have seen apostrophes used to indicate possession (but never plural), such as Jessica’s. That’s an example of possession, and not a contraction!
Even though apostrophes may intimidate some students, using apostrophes and making contractions is pretty simple.
While there are rules to contractions, there are also exceptions. That means it is worth taking the time to memorize the most common contractions.
Thankfully, Education.com has put together a number of worksheets, and even a clever song or three, to walk your students through the dos and don’ts of contractions. Take advantage of the powerful educational resources here to learn the proper shortcuts to making words shorter.