Understanding the proper use of contractions can greatly improve your writing.
Since the word contract means to squeeze together, it seems only logical that a contraction is two words made shorter by placing an apostrophe where letters have been omitted.
Examples of common contractions in the English language include:
Technically speaking, contractions aren't necessary in written English. Using the full version of a word is always grammatically correct. However, there are a number of reasons why contractions do serve a valuable stylistic purpose. For example:
It's and its are two of the most commonly confused words in the English language. However, understanding the difference between these two words is crucial for successful communication.
It's is a contraction for it is or it has. For example:
Its is a possessive pronoun. Its modifies a noun and is used to show ownership. For example:
To determine if you should use it's or its in your sentence, simply try replacing the word with it is or it has. If the sentence makes sense, it's is appropriate. If not, use its. For example:
They're, their and there are also quite commonly confused words among students who are learning about contractions.
They're is a contraction for they are. For example:
Their is a possessive pronoun. It is used when you want to show that something belongs to someone. For example:
There is used to mean that something is at or in a particular place. For example:
Deciding which word to use is easy if you remember a few simple tips:
While contractions can be very useful in written English, many experts caution against the use of contractions in formal communication. Since contractions tend to add a light and informal tone to your writing, they are often inappropriate for academic research papers, business presentations, and other types of official correspondence. However, this rule does have some flexibility.
In general, it's best to use your own judgment when deciding if contractions are appropriate for a particular piece.
Contractions can be used in any position in a sentence; however, homophone contractions such as "it's" and "they're" sound better when followed by another word or phrase. The reason is that the sounds of "its" and "it's" and "they're" and "they are" are so similar that they can be confusing unless they are used with the context of an additional word. For example: