The In-depth Analysis of When To Use Contractions And When Not To Use Them In Writing

Much of the advice out there from writers of all ages, skill levels, and English websites support that using contractions in writing is inappropriate. The most common reason attached to this is that contractions make your writing seems unnecessary and the more unnecessary you make the text, the more it looks less quality. On the other hand, a few writers and websites also said that contractions are accepted and can be used in writing to make writing more readable for the reader and make work faster for the writer. Unfortunately, this verse set of opinions has confused a lot of writers and students that many of them end up using contractions where they don’t fit.

Contractions in grammar

The fact is, contractions in writing are acceptable and they are not acceptable. They are acceptable in certain cases and not in others. However, there is no universal or standby rule that says contractions should never be used in writing. The main illustration I will use to back this up is that if it is true that contractions are not supposed to be used in writing, they would not have existed in the first place. But then, they are a result of some grammatical procedures and are more “natural” in many respects than other alternatives like tenses or modifiers. As such, most “proper” writers will find a way around contractions when the need arises. However, the suggestion is to follow the prevailing conventions of the language and avoid them where possible. So this article analyses when or when not to use contractions in writing. 

First, let's take a look at the types of contractions in grammar 

Contractions Examples

1. "Not" Contractions

These types of contractions are very common and widely used by students and writers. However, they are used to show that something is negative or something is not in the present tense (don’t want it) or something is conditional, something is disagreeable (it’s bad) or something is irreparable (you can’t fix it). Examples of 'Not' contracted forms are: Can't, wouldn't, aren't, didn't, shan't, and more. 

2. Modal Contractions

Contractions under this category look interesting but are scarcely used. Nevertheless, they are being used often by professional writers and editors. Modal contractions are formed by omitting letters in the modal verbs and ending up with 'll' instead of 'will' and 'd' instead of 'should or would' Examples are: he'll (he will),  we'll (we will), they'd (they should), she'd (she would). Etc. 

3.  Auxiliary Contractions 

These contractions involve omitting some of the letters of auxiliary verbs such as "is and are" to end up having "s" and "re." Examples are: she's (she is), that's (that is), it's (it is), where's (where is), they're (they are), you're (You are), etc. 

4.  'Have' and 'Has' Contractions

These contractions look like auxiliary contractions, but they are really “oratives”. 'Have' contractions are formed by omitting the first two letter of the verbs "have and has" and ending up with 've' and 's'  Examples are: they've (they have), should've (should have), what've (what have), might've (might have), it's (it has) etc. 

Note: The contracted form of "it has" is also the same as "it is." Both are contracted as "it's." 


a. It's been raining since morning (contraction formed here is 'it has')

b. It's for her. I don't think it's yours. (The contraction is 'it is' for her. I is yours)

5. The "M" Contraction

This contraction is formed by omitting 'a' in 'am' and ending up with 'I'm,' instead of "I am."

Now that we have analyzed contractions' examples, let's look at the usage of contractions in the English language.

When To Use Contractions In Writing

•You can use contractions in conversations

Contractions in dialogues are permissible as they make the spoken language more fluent. So, you can always use contractions when conversing with a person. It will make pronunciation easier. For instance, to say "let's try it" is simpler than "let us try it." Utter this yourself to see how sweet it is. 

•Contractions are accepted in informal writing

Informal writing is a type of writing that does not require strict proper grammar knowledge. They may be small greeting cards, newsletters, Facebook status, etc. So, in this kind of writing, contractions are allowed because writers are more natural towards grammar.  Check all informal writing here. 

•You can use contractions in poetry

Poems are most commonly written to express the writers ’ feelings and thoughts. Thus, poetic language is more spontaneous and easy to express. As a result, poets have the license to follow or not follow the grammar rules because it is the only way they can be more artistic. This means that the use of contractions is allowed, as long as the poet wants or feels comfortable with it. 

•Use Contractions in blog articles

Blog articles are informal writing that obliges the writers to write for a specific huge audience. However, one of the purposes of writing a blog article is to gain readers and likes and not to impress a particular lecturer. So, bloggers have the liberty to use contraction because it will make reading their posts easy for the readers.

       •Use contractions in fictional writing

In a fictional narrative, it may be difficult for writers to express themselves formally. This is because they need to show a certain level of creativity in their write-up. However, contractions are one of the features that can enrich writers' narrative tone and it is permissible. 

When To Avoid Contraction In Writing

•Contractions are strictly unacceptable in academic writing

Academic writing can be scholarly texts, research papers, essay writing, or formal letters. Whichever one it is, in as much as you have to follow a rule, or formats like the APA, or MLA guide, then, you must avoid contractions. This is because academic writing is strictly formal and if contractions are used, they could cause confusion, affect ideas, and allow the writer or student to violate the rules and guidelines of the professional writers' associations. 

•Do not use contractions in professional writing 

Professional writing is reports, business letters, academic letters, or business correspondence. This type of writing requires strict rules in format, grammar, spelling, syntax, and nomenclature. So, there's no room for jumble-together contractions and comma splices in it.

•Avoid contractions when you are strictly asked not to

This is very important. If you are asked not to use contractions, do not break the rules and start using them. Sometimes, the rules could be that you should not use contractions or slang even though it is informal writing like a blog article. So, you need to be conscious of this and always read instructions. Note that professional writers detest it when the writer violates rules. So you should learn to read attentively. 


The use of contractions in writing depends on personal choice, the writer, situation, location, regulation, and style. So, you must understand the rules of whatever writing you are about to write. That way, you can be sure if you should use contractions or not. 

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