English Fluency For Advanced English Speaker (2015)

Chapter 9:  Contractions in the English Language



One thing you’ve undoubtedly discovered about the English language is its apparent randomness. As soon as you learn a grammatical rule or a way to pronounce a word you discover at least one exception to the rule. There you are thinking you were making progress. Now you’re only left confused.


While it may not make you feel any better but everyone who learns this language has the same problems. We’ve already mentioned even native speakers have encountered these same problems and some of them have never fully conquered them.


One of the idiosyncrasies of the English language – and one that seems to confuse many students – is the contraction. Students and native speakers alike have problems knowing when to use them and when not to. Some individuals have problems knowing what the contraction even stands for.


If you’re having these problems or try to avoid speaking with contractions for fear of making a fool of yourself join the club. But now, we’re going to give you a quick course in this unique part of the English language. Before you’ve completed this chapter you’ll be not only using contractions like a native speaker, but you’ll know exactly why and how you’re using them.



What is a contraction, anyway?



In its basic form a contraction is a shortened form of a word or two words. It’s created, in its most common written form by omitted a letter or letters and replacing them with an apostrophe.


Contractions are normally used in spoken English. Not always found in the written language, a contraction represents syllables that have been dropped by native speakers because on the whole they speak fast and simply compress the words together. One of the ones you’ve probably encounter frequently is “can’t” for “cannot.”


You may already be using this one and a few others. They are after all, a more informal way to speak and they actually make you sound more like a native speaker. You’re less likely to find them in the written language except in some informally written books, like this one whose writing style is to sound more conversational.


Essentially, English uses two types of contractions. The first variety is the type we’ve just defined, in which one or more letters are missing and replaced by an apostrophe. The list below contains a comprehensive list of contractions you may hear people speak, but it’s not necessarily complete.


These contractions have been used for hundreds of years and agreed upon as it were by speakers of the English language. Due to the possibility of being misunderstood, it’s widely accepted in the spoken language that individuals don’t randomly create their own set of contractions. While these words are definitely the informal presentation of two words they are widely accepted by linguists.


Below are many contractions and the words they represent:





are not




could not


did not


does not


do not


had not


has not


have not


he had, he would


he will, he shall


he is, he has


I had, I would


I will, I shall


I am


I have


is not


it is, it has


let us


must not


shall not


she had, she would


she will, she shall


she is, she has


should not


that is, that has


there is, there has


they had, they would


they will, they shall


they are


they have


we had, we would


we are


we have


were not


what will, what shall


what are


what is, what has


what have


where is, where has


who had, who would


who will, who shall


who are


who is, who has


who have


will not


would not


you had, you would


you will, you shall


you are


you have

you aren't

you are not




There’s technically one other form of contraction, even though few people ever refer to it as such. That’s the contractions that English uses in front of full names to identify gender or occupation. In these, only a few letters of the original word is used and when writing them English rules state you place a period at the end. They should cause you absolutely no problem when you’re speaking the language, just be aware of the pronunciation if you read any material aloud in your daily practice.












Learning contractions will go a long way in helping you to speak the English language more fluently. In fact, once you feel comfortable and confident using them – as well as understanding others who use them – you’ll be well on your way to speaking the language like a native.







At this point of the book, you may be tempted to say that you’ve finished reading about breaking through to the new level of fluency in the English language. And you’re certainly have completed the reading portion of this vital journey. However, you’re far from completing your journey.


In one of the most vital ways, you’ve only just begun. Now that you know what it takes to learn how to reach that breakthrough level of the spoken English language, there will be no stopping you. You’re beginning your journey of submerging yourself in English, taking up the challenge of speaking it whenever and wherever you can.


Congratulations. You’ve made a wise decision to continue to work toward your goals and not allowing anything to hold you back. Armed with the guidelines, suggestions, tips and techniques in this book and your own personal study and speaking habits that have been successful for you, you’ll discover great success.


If your goal is to get a promotion at work, you can rest assured you’ll be one of the prime candidates. If your goal is to earn better grades in school, you’ll discover the aid in this book will provide you with the foundation you need.


Or perhaps you’re learning English simply because your children are beginning to learn it in school. In any case, it’s a skill that will be most vital to your future.


There are as many reasons for learning the English language as there are individuals using it. Regardless of your reason for learning it, you’ll discover that once you put your mind to it, you’ll have no problem.


If, any time along your journey, you feel as if you can’t take another step or don’t know how to go any further, simply open this book again and begin referring to it. Haven’t been shadowing like you used to? Perhaps that’s why you should be doing once again to breakthrough to yet another level of fluency.


Sometimes we get so involved in the day-to-day activities of life, that we forget to spend the time on goals that mean a lot to us. Sometimes we lose the ardor and excitement we had when we first started the project. If you believe that this is happening to you, why not just review one more time why you wanted to speak English in the first place. Review with yourself why you wanted to speak it as if it were your first language.


Of course, it’s natural to feel a bit frustrated by the brick wall you seem to have it if you’re feel as if you’re not progressing in Of course, it’s natural to feel a bit frustrated by the brick wall you seem to have it if you’re feel as if you’re not progressing in your pursuit.


This is the perfect time to refer to your S.M.A.R.T. goals again. When you read over these again, try to capture the excitement you felt when you originally wrote them. Hopefully, the goals were internally stimulated. That means you created them because you felt deeply serious about pursuing them for your own reasons.


If your reasons were because others were telling you that was what you should be doing, then it will be more difficult to recapture that magic that you initially felt. Even if they were externally stimulated, chances are that you felt so confident while learning the language that you adapted these goals as an internal challenge for yourself.


Here are two tips to help you stay with the program, as the English idiom goes:


You’ve already set your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Initially it really didn’t matter the language. But now use both languages but don’t stop there. From these goals, create what many would call a vision board. Remember earlier in the book, we used the goal of being able to give a presentation at work. Write this goal out and then find a photo of a boardroom or an office to represent the presentation and the desire to progress in your career.

If your desire was to keep up with your children’s increasing knowledge of the English language which they learning at school, then take a photo of them and put next to that goal. You get the idea. Doing just this will revitalize you.


But then how do you maintain this excitement? Make sure you place these boards in a location in which you can see them, even briefly on a daily basis.


Each time you do see it, repeat your goal out loud. You may even want to stop for a moment and reflect on what this goal means not only to you but to your entire family.


Imagine how proud your children will be of you, for example, when you visit their teachers on the next parent-teacher conference day, speaking like a native speaker. Imagine how your career will soar when you improve your English enough to actually in front of your supervisors and colleagues and talk about the project in English.



Want to Go that Extra Step with Reminders?



Why not take advantage of the current state of technology and set daily or periodic reminders on your phone of what your true goals are in your studies. If you reflect at least once daily at a specific time every day, you’ll be keeping these goals in your consciousness. In this way, you’ll be less likely to get depressed over your studies and more likely to stay enthusiastic and centered.


Well Done! Look how far you’ve come since you took your first step. Remember to have a consistent English practice schedule everyday. Keep up the good work. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking fluent English like a native.