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apostrophe: contractions

In informal writing, use apostrophes to replace omitted letters in contractions. The most common contractions in English involve verbs.

The contraction ‘d is short for the verb had or would:

  • You’d (You had) better pay that bill today.
  • He’d (he had) already left before the others arrived.
  • We’d (we would) like to invite you to our wedding.

The contraction ‘ll is short for the verb will or shall:

  • We’ll (We will/shall) see you at the next meeting.
  • They’ll (They will) drive Karen home.

The contraction ‘m is short for the verb am and is used only with the subject I:

  • I’m late!
  • I’m doing my best.

The contraction n’t is short for the adverb not; it is attached to a helping verb:

  • They won’t (will not) be here until after 7 p.m.
  • You can’t (cannot) do that.
  • We didn’t (did not) find the keys.

The contraction ‘re is short for the verb are:

  • You’re (You are) parked in my spot.
  • We’re (We are) wondering whether to enter the dance contest.

The contraction ‘s is short for the verb is or has, or for the pronoun us in Let’s:

  • It’s (It is) the best of its kind.
  • John’s (John is) flying to Toronto this morning.
  • Miriam’s (Miriam has) already left.
  • Let’s (Let us) plan a trip to Banff this winter.

The contraction ‘ve is short for the verb have:

  • They’ve (They have) sent us a letter.
  • You should’ve (should have) invited your cousin.
  • Josie couldn’t’ve (could not have) done all that work already!

Note the differences in spelling between these contractions and their homonyms:

  • it’s (it is) vs. its (belonging to it)
  • you’re (you are) vs. your (belonging to you)
  • they’re (they are) vs. their (belonging to them) or there (in that place)
  • who’s (who is) vs. whose (belonging to whom)