Contracted forms (isn't, can't, doesn't etc) in WR postings

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Roymalika

Senior Member
Punjabi
I have been told by my teachers that we should use contracted forms (don't, haven't, isn't, can't etc.) in speech, not in writing. But here in this forum native speakers often use contracted forms in their answers/posts. Why is it so? I have been told that contracted forms are only for speech.
Can someone explain the reason please?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, they're fine in writing at a normal conversational tone, like this. Don't use them in essays at university or if you write a textbook or a journal article.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    So we can use contracted forms in an informal writing such as here on WR, but we should not use them in academic writing (school, college, university classes/exams etc.)

    Right?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    As an experiment I have made my new year's resolution to eliminate contractions in speech and writing (it is only for one year). It has proved harder than I imagined, especially in speech.

    I do not know what I plan to prove by this experiment, other than I am able to accomplish the goal.

    Any writing whose purpose is to mimic spoken language will likely have contractions and normal everyday grammar errors to make it sound authentic.

    Casual writing will have the expectation of good grammar, but contractions would be acceptable.

    For formal writing, avoid contractions (and of course use good grammar).
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    Even in more formal writing, contractions are becoming acceptable - to some at least. You should ask you teacher/lecturer/professor what they expect.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So we can use contracted forms in an informal writing such as here on WR, but we should not use them in academic writing (school, college, university classes/exams etc.)

    Right?
    Not quite. Contractions are a very normal part of both spoken and written English, to the extent that the only place I'd advise you not to use them is in something like a contract or legal document. If you consciously avoid them in an ordinary piece of homework or schoolwork, it can make your writing sound unnaturally formal and rather stilted (although it could possibly depend on what you're writing about).

    [cross-posted]
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ... Don't use them in essays at university or if you write a textbook...
    Disagree.
    Even in more formal writing, contractions are becoming acceptable...
    Agree.
    Not quite. Contractions are a very normal part of both spoken and written English, to the extent that the only place I'd advise you not to use them is in something like a contract or legal document...
    Agree.

    I have just completed the second edition of an advanced undergraduate business school textbook. (The first edition sold well enough to justify it.) Both editions use contractions extensively. Both were professionally edited and copy-edited by a major publisher. Nobody user of the 1st ed. ever complained about the contractions, nor were any ever edited out. The attitude toward contractions may be different in different fields or in BE, and to a great extent this is a matter of the overall style of the book (mine is informal, as textbooks go), but in AE a blanket prohibition of contractions in textbooks would go too far.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Interestingly some very formal older writing in the American canon (philosophy, theology) uses contractions extensively. I am thinking of 17th and 18th century writers. I expect this was less true of the equivalent British authors but haven't run a comparison.

    Many "rules" are a product of the later 19th or even 20th century as the percentage of students in public education sky rocketed. Many rules are designed to get young teens writing in a slightly more coherent style and do not necessarily apply to all professional writing by adults.

    In the matter of contractions, be guided by the style of the audience or publication. If your teacher says no contractions then you follow that. If you are writing for publication you should read the publication and see what format the articles follow. If in doubt, ask.

    It is purely a style choice and the kind of thing that does change over time.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Re: The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Search Results

    While I cannot open the threads I can read the summaries and they are enlightening as this seems to be an ongoing debate.

    Editing authors who overuse contractions
    When you are editing an author who seems to have a penchant for contractions, what is a responsible guideline for whether the contractions should be left alone or split apart back into two words? This author really does use far too many contractions, which may sound fine in spoken conversation but



    RE: why do we allow apostrophes in Technical writing
    I work on a lot of textbooks. Sometimes we allow contractions, sometimes we don't. It depends on the tone we are going for. I don't think contractions are a sign of "lazy" writing, however (a lot of extremely accomplished and energetic writers use them with abandon), and they rarely lead to confusion.


    contractions in academic writing
    Are there any guidelines or tips on when to use contractions in academic writing? How often is too often? Is it all a matter of sound and taste?


    ] RE: Consistency of Contraction Usage
    How important is consistency when using contractions in an informal essay? For example, is it acceptable to use both "I don't" and "I do not" in the same essay or even the same paragraph? I find myself using both forms, depending on tone and emphasis [...]
     
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