Language and Linguistics

Contractions in English common contractions in English


contraction in English is a word or phrase that has been reduced from one or more letters and where the space left by such reduction is taken by an apostrophe (‘) . Contractions in English

The contractions in English help us to establish a more conversational tone in conversations, so it is advisable to use text messages, blogs, notes, personal essays and in any facet that does not require formality.

However, if you want to give a more formal touch to any writing, it is advisable to avoid using any contraction .

Common contractions in English

1. The verb ‘TO BE’ in the present simple and continuous

Person Conjugation Contraction
1st Singular Yo soy I’m
2nd Singular you are You’re
3rd Singular He is / She is / It is He’s / She’s / It’s
1st Plural We are We’re
2nd Plural you are You’re
3rd Plural They are They’re

Examples of Contractions in English:

Person Formal Contraction Translation
1st Singular I am English I’m English I’m English
2nd Singular You are tired You’re tired Are you tired
3rd Singular He is hungry He’s hungry He is hungry
3rd Singular She is Australian She’s Australian She is Australian
3rd Singular It is Tuesday It’s Tuesday It’s Tuesday
1st Plural We are at school We’re at school We are in school
2nd Plural You are neighbors You’re neighbors You are neighbors
3rd Plural They are waiters They’re waiters They are waiters

When we speak in the present continuous tense we use the verb ‘TO BE’ as an auxiliary with contractions in English as well, with the gerund of the main verb.


Person Formal Contraction Translation
1st Singular I am working I’am working I am working
2nd Singular You are working You’re working You are working
3rd Singular He is working He’s working Is working
3rd Singular She is working She’s working Is working
3rd Singular It is working It’s working Is working*
1st Plural We are working We’re working We are working
2nd Plural You are working You’re working Are you working
3rd Plural They are working They’re working They are working

* It can also be “working” (for objects and ideas etc.)

2. The verb ‘TO HAVE’ in the Present Perfect and the Past Perfect

As you know, we use the verb ‘TO HAVE’ as an auxiliary to form the tenses ‘present perfect’ and ‘past perfect’, but we also use contractions in English with the verb before the participle:

Person Conjugation Contraction Conjugation Contraction
1st Sing. I have I’ve I had I’d
2nd Sing. You have You’ve You had You’d
3rd Sing. He / She / It has He’s / She’s / It’s He / She / It had He’d / She’d / It’d
1st Plural We have We’ve We had We’d
2nd Plural You have You’ve You had You’d
3rd Plural They have They’ve They had They’d

Examples of contractions – Present Perfect:

Person Formal Contraction Translation
1st Singular I have worked I’ve worked I have worked
2nd Singular You have worked You’ve worked Have you worked
3rd Singular I have worked He’s worked Has worked
3rd Singular She has worked She’s worked Has worked
3rd Singular It has worked It’s worked Has worked*
1st Plural We have worked We’ve worked We have worked
2nd Plural You have worked You’ve worked You have worked
3rd Plural They have worked They’ve worked They have worked

* It can also mean ‘working’ (for objects and ideas etc.)

3. Eye! Common mistakes with contractions in English

There are some common complications and errors between the PRESENT CONTINUOUS and the PERFECT PRESENT in relation to the 3rd person with contractions in English. Think in the context of the sentence and the constructions, it is necessary to avoid common mistakes.


The contractions in English, as we have seen, with ‘HE IS’ and with ‘HE HAS’ in the PRESENT SIMPLE (‘ TO BE ‘) and THE PRESENT PERFECT (‘ TO HAVE ‘) are the same. Then it is very easy to make a mistake of understanding. However, there are important rules that can help you:

If the contraction is followed by an object , an adjective or a form of the verb in the gerund , the verb is ‘ TO BE ‘

She is a lawyer She’s a lawyer She is a lawyer
He is Spanish He’s Spanish He is Spanish
It is working It’s working Is working

If the contraction is followed by a participle, the verb is ‘ TO HAVE ‘

I’ve eaten He’s eaten Has eaten
She has worked She’s worked Has worked
It has finished It’s finished Is over

4. Modal and auxiliary verbs with negative forms

As we know, when we use modal verbs (Modal Verbs) as auxiliaries they do not change form: they have no conjugations, and there are no negative forms of those verbs , but we can create negative forms without changing the form of the modal verb .

Negative forms sometimes seem ‘irregular’ because they do not follow the usual rule of normal contractions in English . In the table below there are no person changes and we always use the infinitive afterwards.


Modal verb Long way Contraction in Negative
Dog Cannot Can’t
Could Could not Couldn’t
Will Will not Won’t
Would Would not Wouldn’t
Should Should not Shouldn’t
Have Have not Haven’t
Had Had not Hadn’t
Must Must not Mustn’t

More examples – the form does not change

I can work
I cannot work
I can’t work

I could speak French
I could not speak French
I couldn’t speak French etc.

5. Colloquial English contractions

There are some examples of contractions in English when we mix two words to create a unique contraction, and they are very common in movies or in real conversations between native speakers .

The verbs in which we use this form are ‘ TO GO ‘ and ‘ TO WANT ‘ but we do not use the word ‘TO’ with this contraction in English:

For example:

«I’m going to have lunch» becomes
«I’m gonna have lunch», without ‘TO’

Examples with ‘TO GO’:

Person Formal Contraction Translation
1st Singular I am going to I’m gonna I will
2nd Singular You going to You’re gonna You’ll
3rd Singular He is going to He’s gonna Going to
3rd Singular She going to She’s gonna Going to
3rd Singular It is going to It’s gonna Going to
1st Plural We are going to We’re gonna We are going to
2nd Plural You are going to You’re gonna You go to
3rd Plural They are going to They’re gonna Going to

Examples with ‘TO WANT’:

The above rule about the use of the word ‘ TO ‘ also works with the verb ‘ WANT ‘. For example ‘I want to have lunch’ is changed to ‘I wanna have lunch’, without ‘TO’.

eye! – This contraction in English does not work on the 3rd person

Person Formal Contraction Translation
1st Singular I want to I wanna I want
2nd Singular You want to You wanna You want to
3rd Singular X X X
3rd Singular X X X
3rd Singular X X X
1st Plural We want to We wanna We want
2nd Plural You want to You wanna You want
3rd Plural They want to They wanna They want

And finally there is a contraction in English, very common among people when talking informally to ask something: it works in the 2nd person, singular or plural, and with any infinitive after the contraction:

Person Formal Contraction Translation
2nd Singular Do you want to go …? D’you wanna go …? Do you want to go?
2nd Plural Do you want to go …? D’you wanna go …? Do you want to go

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