Contractions Aren’t Your Enemy

This is a major pet peeve of mine. I’ve seriously put down books before and refused to finish reading them because they didn’t use contractions. CONTRACTIONS ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY. We’re taught in school to write without them, and if you’re writing a research paper or an essay, that’s a good rule to stick to. However, including contractions in less formal writing makes everything smoother, it makes everything sound better, and it makes your writing easier to read.

This sentence sounds kind of awkward without contractions:

He is going to get in trouble: he did it even though he knows he should not have done it.

So let’s add them in:

He’s gonna get in trouble: he did it even though he knows he shouldn’t’ve done it.

But that’s a little overdone. Too many contractions can look and read just as weird as no contractions.

So let’s balance it out:

He’s going to get in trouble: he did it even though he knows he shouldn’t have done it.

That’s better. However, as always, there are some exceptions to these rules:

Contractions can be cut out for emphasis (I almost always use with italics when I do this), like so:

We are not friends.

Instead of:

We aren’t friends.

Splitting the contraction into it’s original words in this case makes the writing more impactful.

Contractions can also be cut or overdone on purpose to convey your character’s voice, especially in dialogue. More contractions means someone’s talking fast; less means someone’s trying to be formal. A balance is the best thing you can do here, but try not to eliminate them entirely. People use them all the time, and if you want your writing to sound realistic, you should use them too.


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