Did your teacher tell you not to use contractions when you speak English?
Were you told it’s not proper English to say words like “can’t” or “they’ve”?
As native speakers and English pronunciation coaches we're here to tell you the opposite.
You SHOULD use contractions when you speak.
In fact, if you don’t use contractions when you speak English, you’ll sound too formal. You might even sound annoyed.
Contractions are the result of putting two words together to make one word. An apostrophe replaces the missing letters.For example: He + is = he’s or I + am = I’m.
Contractions are not slang.
Contractions are not considered improper English.
Whether it’s the Queen of England or the pizza delivery guy, everyone uses contractions when they speak.
This is because it’s efficient and convenient.English is a stress-timed language. Words that carry the most relevant information in a phrase get stressed; the other words are unstressed. This creates the rhythm of English. Contractions shorten unstressed words and keep the rhythm flowing.
Check out the following sentences and decide which sounds more natural:
He should not drive so she will take him to the airport.
He shouldn’t drive so she’ll take him to the airport.
I am sure there will be snacks at the party.
I’m sure there’ll be snacks at the party.
The second and blue sentence in each example is how native English speakers talk. The first purple sentence is how you could cause confusion.
Notice how contractions keep the focus on the stressed words. Less content-heavy words like ‘will’ and ‘am’ don’t receive equal stress. It’s almost like they get “absorbed” into the word in front of them.Avoiding contractions can send the wrong message.
The first sentence in each example above sounds stiff and formal. If you speak like this, people might get the impression you’re being rather serious.
Native English speakers usually avoid contractions only if they have to correct someone or clarify a point.
For example, “I said he should NOT drive.” “There WILL be snacks.”The bottom line: You will sound friendlier, and your speech will sound more natural, if you use contractions.
Practice for better understanding.
If you were taught to avoid contractions in your English classes you probably never heard many examples of contractions in conversation. You may struggle at times to understand what native speakers say when they use contractions you’re not familiar with. Using contractions will train your ear to understand native English speakers better.
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