Informal Contractions in Written English
Informal contractions are short forms of words people use when speaking. Typically, you won’t find informal contractions when writing or when using proper speech. When talking fast, you may replace ‘going to’ with the term ‘gonna,’ or ‘want to’ with ‘wanna.’ Like many languages, over time these words have been developed mainly because they are easier and quicker to say. While they are appropriate in most settings, they should be avoided in others. Even though informal contractions have become a popular part of the English language, there are some common rules to follow.
Normal contraction like don’t, can’t, and I’m must have apostrophes; however, informal contractions will not use apostrophes when written. The sentence ‘Watcha gonna do?’ has two informal contractions. ‘Watcha’ is short for ‘what are you’ while ‘gonna’ is a shortened version of ‘going to.’ When said aloud you can hear the difference between the two different sentences. While some people use contractions often, others seldom do.
Through this article, you will be provided some basic information about the use (proper and otherwise) of informal contractions. Indeed, the main intent behind this article is to help you come to an understanding of the limited instances in which informal contractions can be used with any sense of propriety. In the end, you will come to see that there are some very limited instances in which informal contractions can be useful and even appropriate, those circumstances are by their very nature limited. Informal contractions are not short word forms that you really should use with regularity or at all in some circumstances.
When learning a second language you might be going by a book, which doesn’t take the time to explain the language’s informal contractions, yet as a native speaker you might use them all the time. In order to be able to understand somebody else speaking your second language, it’s vital you understand contractions. Informal contractions, for the most part, were created over time. Usually, for one to really be created, a contraction needs to be clearly transmitted to the recipient.
Many informal contractions end with the sound ‘uh,’ as if you’ve been hit in the stomach. When speaking quickly or in a casual environment, such as a group of friends, you’re more likely to use informal contractions. It can also be seen that overtime, informal contractions tend to change. What people say today may be much different than what will be said 20 years from now. Informal contractions won’t be found in a dictionary. However, that doesn’t mean that you can make your own, as even native speakers of the language will have a hard time understanding what you’re trying to say. Only use contractions you’ve heard a lot of by native speakers.
Remember, informal contractions have their proper place. The majority of the time you won’t want to use an informal contraction when writing, but there are exceptions. When reading a comic strip, a character may say an informal contraction. This is because they are being perceived as how the comic strip’s reader probably talks in a casual setting. Writing an essay for an exam or telling a speech at a business meeting are two examples of places you will want to avoid the use of informal contractions.
If you are involved in fictional writing, informal contractions frequently are used in conversation between characters, in dialog. Informal contractions used in this type of situation makes the story itself more believable. And, believability is very important when it comes to fictional writing.
One problem with informal contractions is how you could be perceived when using them. There have been studies with ESL students, which would have them listen to various recordings with different types of speech. What they found was, when students listened to a recording with a voice speaking proper English, they perceived the person as educated, polite, easier to understand, and more interesting. Studies like that prove that while contractions can be useful, they may not be appropriate everywhere and may depend on the type of impression you’re trying to make.
If you are involved in writing for business, the reality is that informal contractions should be avoided at all costs. If you use informal contractions in business memos and related types of documents, you actually may unintentionally end up sounding as if you do not know what you are talking about. Naturally, when it comes to writing for business, you will want to sound authoritative and that you absolutely understand the issues you are addressing in your written materials.
A student should also be very circumspect in the manner in which he or she uses informal contractions. In most instances, when it comes to academic writing, the only instance in which informal contractions will be considered acceptable is when used on limited occasions in fiction writing. It would never be acceptable in most other types of academic writing unless you were quoting a person who happened to utilize an informal contraction when speaking.
Should you have the opportunity to write something where informal contractions are accepted, they should still be used wisely, as they will be factors in your style of writing. You’ll want to make sure that your target audience accepts informal contractions and that by doing so you aren’t jeopardizing the message you’re trying to get through. Once again, when it comes to informal contractions, the one area in which you really will have an opportunity to use these writing devices is when you are creating dialog for characters in a fictional setting.
By paying attention to the tips, pointers and suggestions concerning informal contractions that are contained in this article, you will be in a better position to improve your overall abilities as a writer. Above all, you need to come to an understanding and appreciation of the limited (very limited) set of circumstances in which the use of informal contractions will be considered appropriate. You will be able to ensure that you are writing in an appropriate manner for the circumstances at hand.