I have to admit / I've to admit - Contracted forms

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Amstellodamois, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    Hi!


    Apparently, the rules about the contracted forms are more complicated than my teachers used to tell me in my young years.

    Few weeks ago, I wrote in a thread "I've to admit that blablabla" and a native kindly sent me a PM to tell me I should have written "I have to admit...".
    3 days after I saw a conversation in another thread where the point was that somebody should have used the contracted form.

    At this point, I'm clearly confused :D Could you give me some material about the situation where we should and should not use the contracted form?

    Many thanks!
     
  2. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I've to admit is spoken language, I don't think we'd generally put it into writing, at least not in formal situations. In any case, writing the full form - I have to admit - is preferable.
     
  3. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It's also true that I've [to] isn't used in all varieties of English; Pedro clearly uses it, but I don't (I say I've got [to] or I have [to] instead).

    Perhaps the person who PMd you speaks a variety that doesn't use "I've" without "got" in this context:cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  4. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    It seems to this AE speaker a bit unusual to contract "I have" before a bare infinitive (one without "to"). I'd never say, much less write, "I've to admit...." But as a marker of the past progressive—"I've been thinking about this for several minutes"—or present possession—"I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts"—I'd consider the contracted form preferable in all but the most formal writing.
     
  5. Paxal Senior Member

    Paris
    French
    This is because "have" here is the verb and not the auxiliary - and so it is not contracted so easily. I have to go, but 'I've done something wrong.
     
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    This is no doubt very complicated, but let's see if we can think of some obvious situations where you have to use one or the other. Normally you should use the contraction in speech, and in speech-like writing (like here); in most writing you can use either, unless it's very formal. Now let's see about exceptions:

    You can't use contractions at the end of clauses: She said I'm not going but I am. (not *I'm)

    You can't emphasize the verb with a contraction: I haven't done it yet but I will do it. (not *I'll) (but you can emphasize the person: She hasn't done it yet so I'll do it.)

    Negative forms can be emphasized however - She told me to but I won't - (Oh look, it's also at the end of a clause.) Two good reasons why negative verbs like won't are inflections of the verb, not contractions will + not.

    (In my dialect at least, and I think I'm speaking for Standard English generally) you can't contract have to at all.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  7. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    I do know that now. What I'm looking for is a more exhaustive rule about when I should or shouldn't use the contracted form in both spoken and written language.

    Probably. He told me I could have written "I've had to admit" though.
     
  8. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    "I've to" is often used in Ireland (at least in the Dublin area).

    Examples: I've to do the shopping later, I've to get the car fixed before it breaks down etc. Like I said though, it's a spoken form, I generally wouldn't write it down.

    "I've to admit" generates 18,600 hits on Google, mostly from "informal" sites like blogs.
     
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It depends on whether an unstressed have is possible in the sentence.
    This, in turn, depends on things like whether have is an auxiliary or not.

    I have to go to Dublin tomorrow ...
    I can't contract that if I want to say it so that you understand I am somewhat reluctant to make this journey, but I really don't have any choice.
    But if I simply want to tell you that I will be going to Dublin tomorrow then contraction is possible.
    I've to go to Dublin tomorrow ...

    I have to admit ...
    It is difficult to imagine a context in which I would say this without wanting to stress the sense of compulsion in have to. This expression generally begins a kind of confession.
    But suppose that I work in the hospital admissions office and someone wants to know if I am free to do something or other? Then it becomes possible to contract:
    I've to admit three more patients but then I'll be free.

    So perhaps it's rather like some other rules (a/an choices for example); the real "rule" is a bit complicated to explain, especially when you're not face to face, so useful proxies have been identified.
     
  10. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes, it sounds Irish or Scottish to me.

    I'm sure I remember coming across this difference in previous threads - I'll go hunting.

    EDIT: Ah, I was thinking of something slightly different: this post of panj's about have [got] meaning possession.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2009
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  12. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    'I've to' in Southern England English sounds very old-fashioned, like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Famous Five books: 'She says I've to go home.'
     
  13. HistofEng Senior Member

    New York
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    "I've to" sounds very strange to my AE ears. We would not contract it.
     
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I suspect we're edging towards a consensus, Amstell.

    Unless you speak Irish English or Scottish English (and possibly certain other varieties), it would be unusual - perhaps old fashioned - to abbreviate I have to I've, unless there's a subsequent past participle, including the past-participle-with-no-effect-on-meaning 'got'.
     
  15. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    Interesting.
    Not even if you want to minimize your confession? (like you're admitting you're wrong but on a very small part of your point only which doesn't need to be reconsidered for all that)

    Ha ha ha, funny.

    But is there some cases where you wouldn't imagine not to use the contracted form?
     
  16. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Here's one:

    I've to admit, it was a stupid thing to do.

    Saying this unstressed sounds perfectly fine to my ears. I think it all depends on the level of formality. If I was talking with some friends, the have to would inevitably be unstressed. If however I was talking with a boss, or a school teacher for example, the have to would very likely be stressed.

    It would seem that this only holds true for Irish (and maybe Scottish) English. According to what I read here, in other varieties such usage is regarded as unacceptable.
     
  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Interesting. That would sound really odd up here in my bit of The Island.
     
  18. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    On mulling it over, I think it has something to do with the Dublin accent/dialect. If you hear someone speaking with a proper Dublin accent (not the Dublin 4 variety), have to will inevitably become something like "Oi've to". Indeed, the word something, for example, is pronounced as "sumtin'" with a very light t. It must be down to that because, for me, it sounds completely natural.

    Another example (taken straight from Google): "I've to admit I was a bit lost at the start.."

    Here the have to would inevitably be unstressed. Stressing would sound strange to me, unless speaking in a very formal situation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Listening to Pedro's post, I wonder ... ... ...

    I can hear three spoken versions of "I have".
    The first is a clearly articulated, two-word version: I have.
    The second is the contracted version I've been thinking of so far: I've - just like the ending of "hive".
    The third version, which I think I hear Pedro use, is somewhere in between. It is a somewhat blurred version of "I have" that isn't the contracted "I've" and isn't "I have".
    It's "I have" with all the vowels but no /h/.
    A near approximation is "I of to admit ..."

    ?
     
  20. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I don't quite think so. The main difference (in the Dublin accent) is on the I, it sounds something like Oi. However it's still definitely I've. You mentioned the ending of hive as an approximate for I've, as I say it in my head it's much closer to that than I of to. I'm thinking of various examples using I've to and I have to and I might have come up with something.

    I'd definitely say have to when I want to make something totally clear. I have to see a doctor, for example.

    When I have to means I'm supposed to (do something) however, that's when the contraction is most likely to occur.

    Example (from Google.ie): "Apparently I've to pay 79 euro for the modem and sign up to another 18 month contract "

    Another example from the Irish Times :“We've bolted from Buswells Hotel on Dublin’s Kildare Street, opposite the Dáil – too noisy and busy – and are trotting briskly down Molesworth Street when Joe Higgins slows with a heavy sigh: “Oh God, now I’ve to meet these f***in’ Greens.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  21. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks Pedro.
    Is there a difference depending on whether it means "I'm expected to ..." and "I'm compelled to ..."?
    Where on this spectrum does "I'm supposed to ... " sit?
     
  22. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    It'd be much more towards the I'm expected to end of the spectrum. If one is compelled I'd expect the have to to be emphasized.
     
  23. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    Do people pronounce "I have" like "I of"?

    Wow, "It'd" isn't often used either :D


    Again: Is there some situations where you couldn't think using the non-contracted form?
     
  24. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Is you question only focused on have as a verb in its own right (as in I have to admit - I have three cows) or does it include the use of have as an auxiliary (as in I've never been to Italy)?
     
  25. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    You're right to try to clarify that. My question isn't focused on anything. I'd like to know if there is any case (with any verb, not only to have) where it would be considered as a mistake not to use the contracted form.
     
  26. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It depends what you mean by 'mistake'. Use of the uncontracted forms would never constitute a grammatical error; but it might well sound unnatural.
     
  27. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    That's what I mean :)
    Call it an error or a "weird-sounding-form" or anything else if you prefer.
     
  28. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I can only point you to my post 14 and entanglebank's post 6....
     
  29. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    First of all I have to :)warn:not "I've to") completely agree that the use of "I've to" is perfectly natural to my ear and mouth in situations where I know it wouldn't sound natural to non-Irish speakers, such as:

    "We're going to have dinner at 6, so I've to go the shop on my way home." :tick:

    However, "I've to admit, it was a stupid thing to do" sounds very odd to me (and it gives me the impression that "admit" must have been used in a different way, as in "I've to go to her house and admit that I did it; otherwise, she'll never forgive me"), because as Panjandrum mentioned, it is almost impossible to say "I have to admit" (excluding the "admitting patients" meaning of the word) without wanting to stress "have". As such, I would always pronounce "I have to admit..." as "I have to admit", with a marked stress on that very word "have".

    As to Amstellodamois' most recent question, I'd say that if you want to use the form "I have got to (do the laundry)", it would sound unnatural to say the full "I have got to..." unless you have a particular reason to want to stress "have got" (and even then, it can still remain contracted and be pronounced "I've got to do the laundry")
     
  30. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Time for a little summary, then.
    As Loob said, entanglebank gave a short answer to Amstellodamois' current question, which is "when would it be "wrong" to not contract have before a past participle?", in post #6.

    Let me apologize in advance for repeating a few things from others' posts.

    1. In formal writing, I don't think anybody will object to not using the contracted form.

    2. In speech (or informal writing) you'll use the full form if you want to emphasize the statement you're making.
    A : .....but you can't be aware of that as you've never been to Italy
    B : I have been to Italy, though that was a long time ago.
    (again see entanglebank's post #6)


    Otherwise, it may sound unnatural or it may sound like you're talking to someone who, for some reason (non native, hard hearing,...), has difficulties following you.

    Do you people agree with my summary?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  31. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Summary Part II : have as an ordinary verb

    The general trend in the English-speaking world is to keep the full form.
    In Ireland and Scotland, however, they do contract the have, albeit with a few subtleties. It seems that sentences like
    I've/have to go shopping... and
    I've/have to admit
    can be treated either identically or (more often) differently, depending on the specific area and context.
    (see the relevant posts for that).

    But then, the study of language would be much less fun without the exceptions, wouldn't it? :)
     
  32. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Nice summary, Jean-Michel!
     
  33. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    If you want to stress the fact that you are admitting something, then yes, I would personally stress it too. That being said, the other form sounds fine to me (in informal situations).

    Think of coming out of a cinema: "I've to admit, that film was absolutely crap". Saying it unstressed here isn't shocking to me, I heard it used in such a way not too long ago.

    At the end of the day though, I think we're finding that what is true for one area (or one group of speakers) may not be true for another. Take the lingustic differences between the North and Southside of Dublin (a single city) as a case in point. Therefore, while we can say that "I've to.." is widely used in Ireland, it may be used in ways which are deemed acceptable by some and unacceptable by others.

    For a learner the best idea would be to steer clear of the whole thing and stick with the standard "I have to", this way any and all misunderstandings will be avoided.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  34. lrosa Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    Hmm, I'm having trouble imagining the context for this sentence, as in why the speaker would be "admitting" this...

    If the situation is that the speaker convinced all his friends to come to the film because he thought it would be good, only to find out that it wasn't, then what would come most naturally for me would be "Well, I have to admit it, that film was absolutely crap." But I suppose "I've to admit" wouldn't be the most shocking thing I've ever heard!

    And yes, I think that a learner should stick to "I have to..." in all speech/writing, "I've got/done/etc..." in speech, and "I have got/done/etc..." in formal writing.
     
  35. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    Actually, my question is much wider than that (see #25). I'm wondering if it would be "wrong" not to use (by the way "not to use" or "to not use"?) the contracted form of any verb (i.e. not only to have) in any case you can think of.
     
  36. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Do you mean wrong grammatically or do you mean unidiomatic?

    I cannot think of a single case where it would be wrong grammatically to not use the contracted form of any verb.

    Stylistically it can sound very unidiomatic. There was an android character on Star Trek: Next Generation named Data whose speech patterns were odd and sounded artificial. The primary difference was that he avoided all contractions.

    In a spoken sentence where there is no stress intended or emotion being conveyed, I think "will not" and "would not" sound the most unusual to me:

    I would not do that if I were you.
    I will not take more than a moment of your time.

    These both sound a little odd to my ear.

    "Have not" and "do not" would also sound odd to me in many situations (spoken language only):

    I have not tried these chips before.
    I have not been to France.
    Do not bother.
    I do not know.


    With nothing to back it up but my personal impression, I would think that "haven't" and "don't" are probably two of the most common contractions in everyday speech.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  37. Amstellodamois Senior Member

    Southern India
    French - France
    I mean unidiomatic, unusual.
    Thanks for your examples.
     
  38. kergan New Member

    Spanish
    What if the contraction is used in the past? Does all the above mentioned apply?

    Examples:
    Obligation/necessity: ''I'd to be home by 8'', ''I'd to study a whole day for that exam''
    Possession: ''I'd a dog when I was a kid''

    Thank u
     
  39. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Never, never, never, never, never! —W. Shakespeare :)
     
  40. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    Absolutely no problem in spoken, informal, British English.
     
  41. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    That's very interesting to learn! It would never occur to me to use these contractions. I rarely say this (because it's so often wrong), but I honestly don't think these exist in American English. I may be wrong, but I have never heard them.
     
  42. Fabulist Senior Member

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    I agree with my fellow Americans cyberpedant and jamesm that contractions just are not used in the U.S. as proposed in kergan's post. I don't think those sentences would even be understood in the U.S.

    Kergan: I'd a dog when I was a kid.
    American: Huh?
    Kergan: I had a dog when I was a child.
    American: Oh—so did I.

    Kergan: I'd to be home by 8.
    American: What?
    Kergan: Even when I was in second'ry school, I had to be home by 8 o'clock.
    American: That was rough; when I was in high school I didn't have to be home until 9.

    Americans do generally use the contractions "I've" and "I'd" in perfect tenses:

    I've been working on the railroad.
    I'd studied a whole day for the exam, but I still got a D.


    But "I'd to study ..." would either not be understood or would be heard as "I'd studied . . ."
     
  43. kergan New Member

    Spanish
    Thanks buddies for your replies.
    I understand the contraction can be used in informal British spoken English but should never be used in a formal or informal writing.
     
  44. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Not quite, kergan:)

    The contraction is used in informal BrE and AmE (spoken and written) when "have" is an auxiliary verb.

    The contraction is used in only some varieties of English (spoken and written) when "have" is a main/lexical verb.

    The contraction is not used in formal English.
     
  45. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Well, ker,

    I'd say you can use contractions of have, has, had, am, is, are when they're auxiliaries both in spoken English and in informal writing.

    Best.

    GS

    (Sorry, Loob)
     
  46. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    But it should be heard as "I had to study" (otherwise I'd fail my exam)
     
  47. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Yes. We know now. :) Americans who hadn't been advised of its meaning would hear it the other way.
     

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