You are on page 1of 6

STUDY NOTES

EPISODE 9: EYE TESTING

CONTRACTIONS IN INFORMAL ENGLISH


Its quite common and natural in everyday
English to use such forms as its / ts/, Ive
/a v/, isnt / znt/, theres / z/ and
others. These are contractions and are
shortened forms of a word or words. They
represent the grammar or spelling of
informal writing, and the pronunciation of
informal speech. Though found in informal
language only, they are, nonetheless,
important when writing informal letters,
postcards and notes to friends or even
informal emails. Of equal importance is not
only using but pronouncing contracted
forms correctly when speaking English.
Contractions help make your speech sound
natural.

STUDY TIPS
Communicating effectively and
naturally in English means using
contractions in everyday
conversational speech.
It is also beneficial to put this into
practice for the IELTS Speaking test
to capture the rhythm of English in
your speech.
Extending the use of contracted
forms to informal writing is
important because it is common,
correct and natural for that style of
writing.

Identifying contractions
Contractions are formed with auxiliary verbs be, have and do, and modal
auxiliaries, including can, could, might, shall, should, will, would, ought, must and
the semi-modal need. They are also formed with irregular verbs be, have and do
when theyre not auxiliary verbs.
There are two kinds of contractions.
For example:
pronoun
noun
question word
other

(auxiliary) verb

Theyre travelling in China.


The weathers cold.
Wheres the party?
Heres the book.
(auxiliary) verb

not

She wont be attending the meeting.


John cant have the car tomorrow.

Page 1 of 6

Here is a list of contracted forms.


IRREGULAR VERBS
BE /bi/
Forms

Contractions
Pronouns

present tense 1st person singular


am /m/
m /m/
3rd person singular
is / z/
s /z/ or /s/

other
are /a/
re // or /r/

Past tense
1st and 3rd person
singular
was /w z/ or /wz/
other
were /w / or /w /

Im /a m/
hes /hiz/
shes / iz/
its / ts/

youre /j (r)/
were
/w (r)/,
/w / or
/w (r)/
theyre
/ (r)/ or
/e (r)/

Negative
Contractions
Nouns

Question
Words

friends
/fr ndz/
Jacks / ks/
other words:
heres /h rz/
theres / z/
nows /na z/
friendsre
/fr ndzr/ or
/fr ndz/
sistersre
/s stzr/ or
/s stz/
other words:
herere
/h rr/ or
/h r/
therere
/ rr/ or
/ r/

wheres
/w z/

isnt / znt/
she isnt
compare: shes
not

whatre
/w t/ or
/w tr/

arent /ant/ or
/arnt/
they arent
compare:
theyre not

wasnt /w znt/
I wasnt
he wasnt
she wasnt
it wasnt
werent
/w nt/ or
/w rnt/
you werent
we werent
they werent

Page 2 of 6

HAVE /HV/
Forms

Contractions

Negative
Contractions

Pronouns

Nouns

Question
Words
wheres
/w z/

present tense 3rd person singular


has /hz/, /hz/ or
/z/
s /z/, /s/

hes /hiz/
shes / iz/
its / ts/

friends
/fr ndz/
Jacks / ks/

other singular and


plural
have /hv/, /hv/ or
/ v/
ve /v/ or / v/

Ive /a v/
youve /juv/
weve /wiv/
theyve
/e v/

tablesve
/te blzv/
sistersve
/s stzv/

whatve
/w tv/

havent /hvnt/
they havent
compare:
theyve not

Past tense
singular and plural
had /hd/, /hd/ or
/d/
d /d/ or /d/

Id /a d/
youd /jud/
hed /hid/
shed / id/
itd / td/
wed /wid/
theyd /e d/

friendsd
/fr ndzd/
sisterd
/s std/
other words:
thered / d/

whod /hud/

hadnt /hdnt/
he hadnt
compare:
hed not

other words:
theres / z/

hasnt /hznt/
he hasnt
compare:
hes not

DO /DU/
Forms

Contractions
Pronouns

Negative
Contractions
Nouns

Question
Words

present tense 3rd person singular


does /d z/ or /dz/

other singular and


plural
do /du/ or /d /

Past tense
singular and plural
did /d d/

doesnt /d znt/
he doesnt
compare:
he does not
dont /do nt/
I dont
you dont
we dont
they dont
compare:
they do not
didnt /d dnt/
I didnt
you didnt
he didnt
she didnt
it didnt
we didnt
they didnt
compare:
he did not

Page 3 of 6

MODALS
WILL /W L/
Forms

Contractions

singular and plural


will /w l/ or /w ll/ ll
/l/ or / l/

Negative
Contractions

Pronouns

Nouns

Ill /a l/
youll /jul/
hell /hil/,
/h l/
shell / il/
itll / tl/
well /wil/,
/w l/
theyll /e l/

friendll
/fr ndl/
Jimll / ml/

Question
Words
wholl /hul/

wont /wo nt/


he wont
compare:
he will not

other words:
therell / l/

WOULD /W D/, /WD/


Forms

Contractions

singular and plural


would /w d/
d /d/ or /d/

Negative
Contractions

Pronouns

Nouns

Id /a d/
youd /jud/
hed /hid/
shed / id/
itd / td/
wed /wid/
theyd /e d/

friendsd
/fr ndzd/
Sallyd /slid/

Question
Words
whered
/w d/

wouldnt /w dnt/
he wouldnt
compare:
he would not

other words:
thered / d/

OTHER MODALS
Form
stressed and unstressed
pronunciation
can /kn/, /kn/

could /k d/, /kd/


might /ma t/
shall / l/, / l/
should / d/, / d/
ought / t/
must /m st/, /mst/
need /nid/

Negative Contraction

Meaning

cant /knt/ (Australian English,


North American English), /kant/
(Australian English), /k nt/
(British English)
couldnt /k dnt/
mightnt /ma tnt/
shant / ant/ (British English)
shouldnt / dnt/
oughtnt / tnt/
mustnt /m snt/
neednt /nidnt/

cannot

could not
might not
shall not
should not
ought not
must not
need not

Here is a summary of question and other words, which are commonly contracted.
whats
whatll

whens
whenll

heres

theres

whos
wholl
whod
thats

wheres
wherell

hows
howll

Page 4 of 6

therell

thatll

Stress in contractions
In spoken English the following type of contraction is unstressed. These contractions
are pronounced shorter and quicker, and, therefore, sometimes difficult to hear. It is
an important aspect of casual, conversational English.
pronoun
noun
question word
other

(auxiliary) verb

Theyll /e l/ be living in Thailand.

The weathers /w z/ been warm.


Howve /ha v/ you been?

Theres / z/ been a fire.

When an auxiliary verb is stressed at the end of a sentence or clause, contractions


cannot be formed. For example,
Is he upset?
Yes, he is. Yes, hes.
The other type of contraction can be stressed. These are auxiliary verbs in negative
contractions, which can, in distinction, be stressed at the end of sentences or
clauses. Negatives are stressed in English, and so a contraction containing a
negative is usually stressed.
(auxiliary) verb

not

He wont /wo nt/ be sitting the test.


You were late today?
No, I wasnt /w znt/.

Page 5 of 6

Contractions confusing forms


Though spelt differently some contractions have the same pronunciation as other
grammatical forms. This can cause confusion and misspellings.
Here is a list of such forms.
Word
its =
it is or
it has
its
youre =
you are
your
theyre =
there are
their
there
whos =
who is
whose

Pronunciation

Grammar

Example

contraction

Its been raining all day.

possessive
contraction

The tree lost its leaves.


Youre driving too fast.

possessive
pronoun
contraction

Your drivers licence expires today.

possessive
adverb
contraction

Theyve postponed their holiday.


Theyll be travelling there tomorrow.
Whos going tonight?

possessive

Whose tickets are these?

/ ts/
/j /

Theyre sightseeing today.

/ /

/huz/

Remember that is (to be) and has (to have), as well as had (to have) and
would (would), when used as auxiliary verbs contract to the same form s and d,
respectively. For example:
Its burnt. It is burnt. Im sorry, Ill lower the setting on the toaster.
Its burnt. It has burnt. Im sorry, I wasnt watching the time.
Theyd travelled to China. They had travelled to China.
Theyd travel to China. They would travel to China.
If there is any confusion, the context and grammar would make the meaning clear.

Page 6 of 6