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Many students are confused on how to properly use contractions in speech.  This is one of the most common errors that I see in my students, so I will explain how this should be done and give some examples of pronunciation. 

But first, let us remember that a contraction is a short form of a phrase in English and is most commonly used in informal speech and writing.  The phrase is shortened (contracted) by removing one or more letters, inserting an apostrophe in their place and making the phrase into a single word.

In more formal writing we should not use contractions, but it is fine to do in friendly communications with your friends and family where an informal tone is appropriate.  When you are reading and come to contractions, you should always pronounce them as contractions and not as the longer phrase they represent. 

For example: You should say can't instead of cannot if it is written as can't.  If you see won't, you should always say won't instead of will not.  If you make pronouncing contractions properly a habit, your English speech will sound much more natural. You do want to sound natural don't you?

Practice saying some of these:





































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Comment by Mr. Bob on May 22, 2014 at 13:17


My complaint is teachers who make the students read the contracted short form as the original two words. They make the student say should not when the word is written in the text as shouldn't.  If it was written in the text book or the literature as a contraction, it was meant to stay one.

When teachers were trained by someone who never actually spoke English wih a native speaker usually has teachers who missed some of the important things along the way. I havent heard serious complaints about teaching in your country.

As far as not using contractions in writing, this is a legitimate rule for the teacher to make. It gets students to learn the vocabulary and prevents them from using contractions when they shouldn't.

Comment by noaslpls on May 20, 2014 at 10:37

When I was studying English a few centuries back, we were more or less not allowed to use contraction in our writing. I guess, Malaysia is one of the countries in your list. 

Comment by Mr. Bob on May 20, 2014 at 8:38

Another point I meant to make is that the same contraction can be used for two different words. I will have to go back and edit I guess.  We'd is used for we would and we had. If you read it as we had and it was meant to be we would, you have two very different meanings.

My biggest complaint about this problem is in reading parts in a dialogue. You can change the meaning by not reading the contraction if you choose the wrong words and you sound unnatural. Native speakers use contractions. I'm sorry if your teacher tells you differently, but contractions are in a text for a reason.  If the teacher is not a native English speaker, he/she can only tell you what a teacher told him/her. There are many countries with bad English habits because most of the teachers were never exposed to a native English teacher. I can prove that, but will not name the countries here.

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