englit grammar online

art courtesy of
Janet Preslar, FrActivity



Contractions are combinations of words that are combined into a single word, with the apostrophe replacing the removed letters. Thus, apostrophe placement is important. The following is a list of contractions and their meanings. Note that in many cases, these words, when written without the apostrophes, are still words (listed in parentheses), so spell-check programs will not catch them. Any word followed by the phrase non-standard is either slang or regional dialect and is usually reflective of spoken word rather than formal written English.

ain't: is not, are not…non-standard
aren't: are not

Bill's: Bill is, Bill has (Bills: football team, bills: more than one bill, present singular of verb "bill")
Bob's: Bob is, Bob has (bobs: present singular of verb "bob")

can't: cannot (cant: angle)
couldn't: could not
could've: could have (not "could of")

didn't: did not
doesn't: does not
don't: do not

he'd: he would, he had
he'll: he will (Hell: Hades)
he's: he is, he has

I'd: I would, I had (Id: the urge portion of personality in Freudian psychology)
I'll: I will (ill: not feeling well)
I'm: I am
I've: I have

isn't: is not

it'd: it would…non-standard
it's: it is, it has (its: belonging to it)
it'll: it will

let's: let us…usually begins a sentence; does not ask permission, but
rather requests mutual agreement (lets: present singular of verb "let")

mightn't: might not …non-standard
might've: might have…non-standard (not "might of")
mustn't: must not

Pat's: Pat is, Pat has (pats: present singular of verb "pat")

she'd: she would, she had (shed: verb, "to slough off or remove"; noun, "an undeveloped building")
she'll: she will (shell: verb, to remove the husk of a nut; noun, a mollusk's outer covering)
she's: she is, she has

shouldn't: should not
should've: should have (not "should of")

Sue's: Sue is, Sue has (sues: present singular of verb "sue")

they'd: they would, they had
they'll: they will
they're: they are
they've: they have

we'd: we would, we had (wed: to marry)
we'll: we will (well: good, a water source)
we're: we are, not we were (were: past plural of verb "is")
we've: we have

would've: would have (not "would of")
won't: will not (wont: whim)
wouldn't: would not

you'd: you would, you had
you'll: you will
you're: you are (your: belonging to you)
you've: you have

As you can see, there are some fairly consistent patterns here. Being aware of the basics will make your use of contractions accurate and effective.

Updated October 1, 2001
© Mr. Thomas T. Eiland