Funny contractions: 14 Uncommon And Unusual Contractions

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14 Uncommon And Unusual Contractions

Going further than ’twas

The unique contraction ’twas has become something of a holiday treat; every year around Christmas, it pops back up again because of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore. While you might not recognize the name of the poem, you are likely familiar with the first lines: “’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

You may have picked up from this line that ’twas is a contraction of the words it was. A contraction is a shortened form of a word or group of words where the missing letters are replaced with an apostrophe (’). There are many everyday contractions such as it’s, which is a contraction of it is, where the “i” in is has been replaced with an apostrophe. Other everyday contractions include won’t (will not) and isn’t (is not).

But what about the contractions, like ’twas, that don’t get as much use? We’ve plucked a few out of obscurity to share with you.

’twixt

’twixt

One of the most fun contractions to say is ’twixt [ twikst ]. ’Twixt is a contraction of betwixt, which means “between.” In fact, this contraction often appears in a pair with ’tween, itself a contraction of between, as in ’twixt and ’tween.

For example:

 

  • Standing on the top of the mountain, we felt we were ’twixt and ’tween heaven and earth.

’tis

A contraction that sounds distinctly old-fashioned is ’tis, meaning “it is.” Like ’twas, it gets a lot more attention during the holiday season, because of its use in the phrase ’tis the season, from the carol “Deck the Halls.”

’tweren’t

’tweren’t

The contraction ’tweren’t has two missing letters: it means “it were not,” with the I and O removed. This contraction is most often used to form a conditional, as in (if) it were not (for).

For example:

 

  • ’Tweren’t for my mother, I would have never gone to college.

amn’t

One of the most impetuous-sounding contractions is amn’t, which means “am not.” You can almost hear the conversation-with-a-toddler quality of it:

 

  • You’re taking too many cookies.
    – Amn’t!

 

How much do you know about interjections? Take a look.

hain’t

hain’t

One of the most delightful antique contractions is hain’t. Hain’t has a variety of meanings: “ain’t,” “have not,” or “has not.” The H in hain’t sounds even better when you really lean into it. Here’s how you use it: I hain’t seen her since last year.

y’all’re

y’all’re

A Southern-flavored contraction is y’all’re, a combination of y’all (“you all”) and are. It’s useful for describing a group of two or more people: Y’all’re going to ruin your appetites for dinner if you eat now.

 

You wouldn’t want to miss out on a meal featuring soul food, that’s for sure. Read about the history and delectable offerings that make up soul food.

shan’t

shan’t

As you may have noticed, many contractions involve a shortening of the word not, as in ’tweren’t, amn’t, and hain’t. Another contraction we can add to this list is shan’t, which means “shall not.” Shall is not a word often used in American English; it means “plan to,” “intend to,” or “expect to.” As in, We shan’t use more than we need for the project.

oughtn’t

oughtn’t

Another contraction that features a shortened not is oughtn’t, meaning “ought not.” Ought is an auxiliary verb that expresses a duty, obligation, propriety, or expectation. For example:

 

  • The policeman oughtn’t talk to him in that manner.

A colloquial variation of this contraction is oughtn’t’ve, meaning “ought not (to) have.”

daren’t

daren’t

Our final example of a contraction with a shortened not is daren’t, which means “dare not.” It sounds charmingly old-fashioned today. For example:

 

  • Oh, I daren’t ask him; I’m far too shy.

o’er

Another trend in contractions is to remove the letter V, as in the word o’er [ awr ]. O’er means “over.” It’s chiefly used in poetry and other literary contexts, which you can read more about at our entry for the term. You may be familiar with it from a line in the carol “Jingle Bells”: “Dashing through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh, o’er the hills we go, laughing all the way.”

e’en

Similarly to o’er, the contraction e’en is also typically used in poetry. It means “even.” In some archaic sources, it is also used to mean “evening.” An example comes from the poem “Love and Death” by the Romantic poet Lord Byron:

To thee—to thee—e’en in the gasp of death
My spirit turned, oh! oftener than it ought.

 

Get into the spirit of another holiday by learning about the “een” in Halloween.

ne’er

Our final example of a contraction that leaves out the V is ne’er, which means “never.” In addition to its use in poetry, it also appears in the phrase ne’er-do-well, “an idle, worthless person.” For example:

 

  • The townspeople were suspicious of the ne’er-do-well who turned up one day.

fo’c’s’le

fo’c’s’le

A contraction that comes to us from the seas is fo’c’s’lefohk-suhl ], which is a shortened form of forecastle, “a superstructure at or immediately aft of the bow of a vessel, used as a shelter for stores, machinery, etc. , or as quarters for sailors.” This contraction is antiquated, but you may come across it in 19th-century literary texts.

 

  • All of the sailors rushed out of the fo’c’s’le to save the drowning man, but it was too late.

A final note

As a final note, it is often said that contractions are not to be used in formal writing. It is true that, generally speaking, contractions are informal. However, a better rule might be don’t use too many contractions in formal writing. That said, you can always put these obscure contractions to use when speaking and writing in your everyday life. If you wish to brush up on them, check out our word list with all of these contractions here.

99 English Contractions That Native Speakers Use Every Day

By rachelkelly
Last updated:

You have probably heard someone use phrases like won’t or y’all before. They are in songs and in quotes. They can be heard on TV and in everyday conversations.

These are all examples of common contractions in English. They help simplify the language.

In this post, we will show you useful English contractions that you can memorize to improve your listening and reading comprehension.

We will also explain how you should use these contractions in your own speaking and writing, to get you sounding fluent faster.

Can’t wait to get started? Let’s begin!

Contents

  • What Is a Contraction?
  • English Contractions with “Be”
  • English Contractions with “Will”
  • English Contractions with “Have”
  • English Contractions with “Would”
  • English Contractions with “Had”
  • Negative Contractions in English
  • Miscellaneous Contractions in English
  • How to Use Contractions in English the Right Way
  • Resources to Practice Using English Contractions


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What Is a Contraction?

In English, a contraction is a shortened version of a pair of words where at least one letter is dropped and an apostrophe ( ’ ) is added. For example, instead of saying “I am,” English speakers frequently use the contraction “I’m.” It has the same meaning, but it is a little shorter.

Contractions help to simplify language (they are great for keeping your comments on Twitter under the maximum character count!). Knowing different examples of contractions and their meanings is crucial because they are used everywhere in English, especially in conversational or informal situations.

To recognize contractions when reading English, look for the floating punctuation mark called an apostrophe (“I’m”), which appears in most common English contractions. If you ignore the apostrophe, you may mistake a contraction for another word.

For instance, the word “she’ll” (she will) could be misinterpreted for “shell” (as in, “a shell on the beach”), which has a completely different meaning. Pay attention to spelling and how apostrophes are used in different words when you read English aloud or in your head. This will help avoid mixing up words.

Keep in mind that apostrophes are also used when showing possession in English. In the phrase “the cat’s toy,” the apostrophe is telling us the toy belongs to the cat. Always make sure to look at the context of the sentence so you can understand why and how the apostrophe is being used.

Below, we will take a look at several common English contractions you should memorize. They’re made with the following words:

  • Be
  • Will 
  • Have
  • Had
  • Would
  • Not

And others! Then we will discuss different situations in which to use them and, finally, we will provide some resources to help you practice using contractions correctly.

English Contractions with “Be”

Original Contraction Example
I am I’m I’m trying to improve my English.
You are You’re You’re such a sweetheart!
He is He’s He’s so handsome.
She is She’s She’s very beautiful.
They are They’re They’re really cute puppies!
We are We’re We’re probably going to be late.
It is It’s It’s not a problem.
That is That’s That’s awesome!
Here is Here’s Here’s the car I told you about.
There is There’s There’s a fly in my soup!
Who is Who’s Who’s going to the party tonight?
Where is Where’s Where’s my key?
When is When’s Congratulations! When’s the wedding?
Why is Why’s Why’s he looking at me like that?
What is What’s What’s for dinner?
How is How’s How’s the new job?
Everybody is Everybody’s Everybody’s here now!
Nobody is Nobody’s Looks like nobody’s coming to the party.
Something is Something’s Something’s making a funny noise.
So is So’s I’m done with my food, and so’s he.

English Contractions with “Will”

Original Contraction Example
I will I’ll I’ll finish the project later.
You will You’ll You’ll regret that!
He will He’ll He should put on a coat or he’ll get sick.
She will She’ll She’ll love her birthday present.
They will They’ll I hope they’ll get home before dark.
It will It’ll Come to the party! It’ll be fun!
We will We’ll We’ll arrive around 3 p.m.
That will That’ll I’m not sure that’ll be enough.
This will This’ll This’ll only take a minute.
These will These’ll Those are too expensive. These’ll work just as well.
There will There’ll There’ll be about 30 people at the meeting.
Where will Where’ll Where’ll you go next?
Who will Who’ll Who’ll take care of you when you get older?
What will What’ll He lost his job last week. What’ll he do now?
How will How’ll Our phones don’t work here. How’ll we contact each other?

English Contractions with “Have”

Note: These contractions use “have” as a helping verb to indicate something that happened in the past.

In American English, contractions with “have” are only used in this situation.

Contractions are typically not used when “have” is the main verb showing possession. In other words, you could say I’ve seen that movie (I have seen that movie) but not I’ve a dog (I have a dog).

Original Contraction Example
I have I’ve I’ve been to his house before.
You have You’ve You’ve been trying to contact her for days.
He has He’s He’s been looking for a new job recently.
She has She’s She’s already booked her hotel room.
We have We’ve We’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.
They have They’ve They’ve just arrived.
Should have Should’ve We should’ve turned left at the last light.
Could have Could’ve She could’ve scored high on the test, but she didn’t study enough.
Would have Would’ve I didn’t know you were at the party. I would’ve said hello!
Might have Might’ve I might’ve missed the error if you didn’t point it out to me.
Must have Must’ve I must’ve forgotten the extra pens. I’m sorry.
What have What’ve Oh no! What’ve you done?
What has What’s What’s he been doing lately?
Where have Where’ve Where’ve they already traveled to?
Where has Where’s Where’s the cat been hiding?
There have There’ve There’ve been a lot of thunderstorms this summer.
There has There’s There’s been something different about you lately.
These have These’ve Wear your other shoes; these’ve got mud on them.
Who has Who’s Who’s got the marker?

Notice that the contractions in this table that end with “s” look exactly the same as contractions using “is.”

So, both “he has” and “he is” contract to form “he’s.” Same with “she has,” “what has” and more.

Pay attention to the context of the sentence to understand the difference between these forms!

English Contractions with “Would”

Original Contraction Example
I would I’d I’d love to visit, but plane tickets are expensive.
You would You’d I think you’d be a great salesman.
He would He’d He’d probably be happier in a different city.
She would She’d She’d like to get a dog.
We would We’d We’d love to go see that new movie.
They would They’d If my parents were here, they’d really like this hotel.
It would It’d It’d be cheaper to buy all the tickets together.
That would That’d Do you want to go to the circus? I think that’d be a fun experience.
These would These’d I love sunflowers! These’d look great in my garden.
There would There’d If he doesn’t come, then there’d only be five people for dinner.

English Contractions with “Had”

Note: The contractions for “had” and “would” look exactly the same!

So how do you tell them apart? It is all about the context.

Contractions that use “had” are usually followed by a past participle of a verb. For example: “When she called, I’d been eating.”

You can’t use these contractions as just a past tense (for instance, you wouldn’t say “She’d a dog” for “She had a dog”).

There are also some common phrases that use these contractions, like “had better,” which means something should happen or be done. For example: “She’d better call me back later!”

Original Contraction Example
I had I’d I’d never been to the beach until last summer.
You had You’d You’d better come look at this.
He had He’d She wanted to go to the movies, but he’d already seen the film.
She had She’d After searching for a month, she’d finally found the perfect bag.
We had We’d We’d practiced often so that we could win the soccer match.
They had They’d They’d already finished cooking by the time we arrived.
There had There’d They went to the house that morning, but there’d been no one at home.

Negative Contractions in English

All of these contractions use the word “not” to form a negative meaning.

Original Contraction Example
Do not Don’t I don’t know.
Cannot Can’t You can’t have any more cookies.
Must not Mustn’t You mustn’t touch that.
Are not Aren’t They aren’t coming to dinner tonight.
Could not Couldn’t She was so full that she couldn’t eat another bite.
Would not Wouldn’t My sister wouldn’t ride a bike until she was 11 years old.
Should not Shouldn’t You shouldn’t watch too much TV.
Is not Isn’t That building isn’t safe.
Does not Doesn’t He doesn’t understand what you said.
Did not Didn’t I didn’t go grocery shopping today.
Has not Hasn’t The mail still hasn’t come yet.
Had not Hadn’t I hadn’t thought of that solution.
Have not Haven’t They haven’t seen that movie.
Was not Wasn’t That wasn’t a good idea.
Will not Won’t I won’t be able to attend the meeting.
Were not Weren’t Luckily, we weren’t hurt in the car accident.
Am not; are not; is not; has not; have not Ain’t I ain’t interested in dance classes.

Note that the word “mustn’t” is most commonly used in British English.

You should also be aware that the word “ain’t” is regional, and is considered slang in many areas.

Miscellaneous Contractions in English

Original Contraction Example
Let us Let’s Let’s go shopping this afternoon.
You all Y’all Y’all need to pay attention.
Where did Where’d Where’d the dog go?
How did How’d How’d you know I was at the library?
Why did Why’d Why’d you throw that paper ball at me?
Who did Who’d Who’d you see at the store?
When did When’d I didn’t see you come in! When’d you get here?
What did What’d What’d you find?
Good day G’day G’day to you!
Madam Ma’am Have a good evening, ma’am.
Of the clock O’clock It’s five o’clock now.

Just like “ain’t,” the word “y’all” is regional and is considered slang in some places.

The contraction “g’day” is mainly used in Australia.

How to Use Contractions in English the Right Way

Okay, so now you know the common contractions in English—but you might not be comfortable using them yet. Here are some rules to help you speak or write confidently with contractions.

  • Do not double up on contractions. There should only be one apostrophe in a word. For example, “you’re’nt” is not proper English and is just plain weird.
  • With the exception of negative contractions, most contractions cannot go at the end of a sentence. Make sure to say the entire phrase. For example:

    “Is the cold contagious?”

    Correct: “The doctor said it is.

    Incorrect: “The doctor said it’s.”

    However, negative contractions can end a sentence. Take a look at this example:

    Correct: “If he goes to the party, I won’t.” (Here, we get a full understanding of the speaker’s intentions. The speaker will not go to the party.)

    Incorrect: “If he goes to the party, I’ll.” (Here, the meaning is unclear. This sentence leaves the listener wondering: “You will what? You will go to the party, or you will avoid him?”)

  • Contractions that sound very much like other words (also known as homophones) typically are not used at the end of sentences, either. These include it’s (sounds like its), they’re (sounds like there or their) and you’re (sounds like your).

    For example, if we ask the question: “Are they coming on vacation?”

    Correct: “Yes, they are.”

    Incorrect: “Yes, they’re.”

Most of the time, it is acceptable to use contractions in everyday English. People use them all of the time in both spoken and written English.

However, sometimes contractions are considered less formal than the full phrase. Saying “I can’t help you” is more casual than saying “I cannot help you.”

Also, be aware that the words “y’all” and “ain’t” may be considered slang, depending on where you are. Some American dialects consider these contractions acceptable and use them a lot. In other places and situations, these words are considered very poor English and should be avoided. If you are in an English class, it is probably better to not use these words.

Make sure to always assess the situation to see if using a contraction is appropriate. Most of the time, though, using a standard contraction will be just fine.

Resources to Practice Using English Contractions

To master contractions, you will first want to memorize the list provided above. But you also need to be exposed to different speaking styles or dialects.

Practice with as many language partners or native speakers as possible. Even native speakers from the same area may speak differently and use different contractions.

If you need to find an English speaker to practice with, try using Wyzant, where you can choose from hundreds of English tutors to find one that matches your goals, learning style and budget. Wyzant is a cool option because you can choose in-person lessons or virtual tutoring using a webcam.

Most Wyzant tutors are experienced, certified educators who will have no problem providing expert contraction guidance or help with any other language need. Browse the profiles to start exploring your options.

You should also watch movies, YouTube videos and listen to songs from people from different English-speaking places. They can show contractions as used by native speakers, which will help you learn how to use them naturally. 

For example, here is a YouTube video that uses the popular song “Call Me Maybe” to help explain contractions. It also has some more examples of slang contractions that are sometimes used in English.

If you want to hear more sophisticated language, watch a movie with very proper English, such as “Pride and Prejudice.” If you want to hear dialects with a lot of contractions and slang, you could try watching the popular TV series “The Walking Dead.”

But again, try watching all kinds of different shows and movies. The more English you are exposed to, the more you will learn!

Another resource is the language learning program FluentU. It has a library of short authentic videos that cover different topics. Each clip has interactive captions, so you can spot contractions and see how they’re used in context. You can also click on a contraction, or any other word or phrase, to get information about its definition, grammar and usage in sentences.

You can also get some interactive practice with online quizzes. Here are three to try:

 

Now that you have learned the basics of contractions, use these resources and any others you can find to master contractions and improve your English!


Download:
This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you
can take anywhere.
Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Do you wish you had a better way to learn new English phrases?

Try FluentU!.

Our language learning program is designed to teach you English phrases the natural way—using authentic videos like TV clips, movie trailers and music videos.

Every FluentU video comes with interactive subtitles. Just click or tap on any unfamiliar word or phrase in the captions to get an instant definition, example sentences and native pronunciation audio.

You can search the FluentU video library for any words or phrases to instantly find authentic English videos that use them. Videos can be sorted by subject, format and difficulty level, so you can discover phrases that fit your learning needs and interests.

FluentU comes with built-in learning tools like vocabulary lists and personalized quizzes. There are also multimedia flashcards with video clips, audio and images to help you remember words.

You can access FluentU on your browser or by downloading the iOS or Android app.

By combining engaging clips with tools to help you understand them, you’ll remember the context phrases are used in and the terms will stick better in your mind.

« 12 Tenses in English: Your Timeless Guide to Mastering Verb Forms

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video, I laughed for half an hour: funny videos with cats and other funny animals

video, I laughed for half an hour: funny videos with cats and other funny animals

Australian researchers filmed a brutal fight between two adult sharks. The video was filmed for a National Geographic documentary about white shark cannibalism.

The footage shows how the water literally boils from the fight between two sharks. The reason for the deadly fight was the bait thrown into the water from the boat.

A shark almost bit off a diver’s head — a shocking video

Internet users were shocked by the fact that huge bite holes gape on the body of one of the sharks. At the same time, the deceased individual cannot be called small — it is 3.7 meters long.

«It’s not just an aggressive shark attacking a relative, or one kind of bloodthirsty shark attacking others. Many different sharks behave in this way,» explained Professor Mark Mikan from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences in an interview with The Daily Mail

However, some users have questioned the bloodlust of sharks. According to them, the hungry sharks were first teased with the smell of fresh meat, and then set against each other to shoot this video.

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Surprised Lemur: The Funniest Wildlife Photos

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Image copyright Mary McGowan

Image caption,

«Stop, you can’t get through!» It is rare to see a squirrel in such an unusual position…

The finalists of the funniest wildlife photography contest have been announced. To the contest is held for the fourth time and enjoys great popularity among professionals and amateurs photos . Thousands of papers are submitted every year . We collected and , passing e to the final stage of the competition.

Image copyright Muntazeri Abdi

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«Are you looking for me?» The bright green frog almost blends in with the leaves, but the photographer was able to see it.

Image copyright, Danielle D’Ermo

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«Excuse me, did I tire you too much?» Looks like one of the owls is not in the mood to talk at all

Image copyright Geert Weggen

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«I can stand like this for a long time, no problem at all.» This squirrel has excellent balance and good stretch, but this trick is not worth repeating.

Photo by Michael Lane

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Hippo Revenge. Several thousand photos were sent to the competition, but only 41 photos made it to the final. This hungry hippo wowed the judges

Photo by Jakob Strecker

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It’s unclear why the lemur was so surprised, but the photographer was lucky to catch the moment

Photo copyright, Barney Koszalka

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Moose is clearly surprised by the gesture of his tribesman. ..

Photo copyright, Amy Kennedy

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We hope that looking at these photos, you smiled as widely as this seal. Pictures from this gallery were finalists in the Audience Choice category. The winner will be announced at the end of November

All photos are copyrighted.

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