Guide to Spelling: Hooked on Phonics

Contractions: Suck It In

Creating contractions is another useful skill, right up there with knowing how to work an ATM, execute a three-point turn, and rappel down a cliff. Fortunately, it's much easier to learn how to form contractions than it is to work an ATM or do a three-point turn. I'm not even going to discuss mountain-type stuff like rappelling.

Using contractions adds a more informal tone to your writing and reproduces the spoken word more accurately in your prose.

The basic rule for forming a contraction is a snap: to combine two words, just insert an apostrophe in the space where the letter or letters have been omitted. Here are some examples.

Word #1 Word #2 Contraction
I+am=I'm
you+are=you're
he+is=he's
we+are=we're
Strictly Speaking

Traditionally, contractions are not used in formal writing, such as reports and letters.

Danger, Will Robinson

Here's a key exception: will + not = won't (not willn't).

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.