95+ English Contractions That Native Speakers Use Every Day

You have probably heard someone use phrases like ya’ll or ain’t before. They are in songs and in quotes. They can be heard on TV and in everyday conversation.

These are all examples of common contractions—those funny little words that help simplify the English language.

In this post, we will show you common English contractions you should memorize to improve your listening and reading comprehension. We will also help you use these contractions in your own speaking and writing, to get you sounding fluent faster.

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Contents

What Is a Contraction?

In English, a contraction is a shortened version of a pair of words where at least one letter is dropped and an apostrophe ( ) is added. For example, instead of saying “I am,” English speakers frequently use the contraction “I’m.” It has the same meaning, but it is a little shorter.

Contractions help to simplify language (they are great for keeping your comments on Twitter under the maximum character count!). Knowing different examples of contractions and their meanings is crucial because they are used everywhere in English, especially in conversational or informal situations.

To recognize contractions when reading English, look for the floating punctuation mark called an apostrophe (“I’m”), which appears in most common English contractions. If you ignore the apostrophe, you may mistake a contraction for another word.

For instance, the word “she’ll” (she will) could be misinterpreted for “shell” (as in, “a shell on the beach”), which has a completely different meaning. Pay attention to spelling and how apostrophes are used in different words when you read English aloud or in your head. This will help avoid mixing up words.

Keep in mind that apostrophes are also used when showing possession in English. In the phrase “the cat’s toy,” the apostrophe is telling us the toy belongs to the cat. Always make sure to look at the context of the sentence so you can understand why and how the apostrophe is being used.

Below, we will take a look at several common English contractions you should memorize. They’re made with the following words:

  • Be
  • Will 
  • Have
  • Had
  • Would
  • Not

And others! Then we will discuss different situations in which to use them and, finally, we will provide some resources to help you practice using contractions correctly.

English Contractions with “Be”

I am → I’m

I’m trying to improve my English.

You are → You’re

You’re such a sweetheart!

He is → He’s

He’s so handsome.

She is → She’s

She’s very beautiful.

They are → They’re

They’re such cute puppies!

We are → We’re

If you don’t get dressed soon we’re going to be late!

It is → It’s

It’s against the law!

That is → That’s

That’s awesome!

Here is → Here’s

Here’s the car I was telling you about.

There is → There’s

Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!

Who is → Who’s

We’re going down to the beach tonight. Who’s with me?

Where is → Where’s

Where’s my key? I can’t remember where I put it.

When is → When’s

It’s so exciting that you got engaged! When’s the wedding?

Why is → Why’s

Why’s that guy looking at me like that?

What is → What’s

What’s for dinner?

How is → How’s

I heard about the accident. How’s she feeling?

Everybody is → Everybody’s

Come on in, everybody’s waiting for you.

Nobody is → Nobody’s

It looks like nobody’s coming to the party.

Something is → Something’s

Listen! I think something’s coming this way.

So is → So’s

If I’m coming, then so’s he!

English Contractions with “Will”

I will → I’ll

I’ll finish that project later.

You will → You’ll

You’ll regret that!

He will → He’ll

He should put on a coat or he’ll get sick.

She will → She’ll

She’ll love her birthday present.

They will → They’ll

I hope they’ll get home before it gets dark.

It will → It’ll

You should come to the party! It’ll be fun!

We will → We’ll

We’ll arrive there around 3 p.m.

That will → That’ll

I bought a pound of beef but I’m not sure if that’ll be enough.

This will → This’ll

This’ll only take a minute.

These will → These’ll

I wanted to buy the more expensive brand, but these’ll work just as well.

There will → There’ll

There’ll never be peace if we don’t listen to each other!

Where will → Where’ll

Where’ll you go next?

Who will → Who’ll

When you’re older, who’ll take care of you?

What will → What’ll

He lost his job! What’ll he do when he runs out of money?

How will → How’ll

Our phones don’t work here. If we split up, how’ll we find each other?

English Contractions with “Have”

Note: These contractions use “have” as a helping verb to indicate something that happened in the past.

In American English, contractions with “have” are only used in this situation.

Contractions are typically not used when “have” is the main verb showing possession. In other words, you could say I’ve seen that movie (I have seen that movie) but not I’ve a dog (I have a dog).

I have → I’ve

I’ve been to his house before.

You have → You’ve

You’ve been trying to contact her for days.

He has → He’s

He’s been looking for a job since he got fired.

Note: Does this contraction look familiar? It looks just the same as the contraction for “he is,” so be careful to pay attention to context.

She has → She’s

She’s already told you once before!

Note: Again, be careful not to confuse this with “she is.”

We have → We’ve

We’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.

They have → They’ve

They’ve just arrived.

Should have → Should’ve

The students should’ve listened to the teacher’s warning.

Could have → Could’ve

She could’ve done it if she really tried.

Would have → Would’ve

And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!

Might have → Might’ve

I might’ve missed the error if you didn’t point it out to me.

Must have → Must’ve

I’m sorry I forgot our appointment, it must’ve slipped my mind.

What have / what has → What’ve / What’s

This is terrible! What’ve we done?

What’s my dog been doing when I’m not home?

Where have / where has → Where’ve / Where’s

Where’ve they been shopping?

Where’s he gone this time?

There have / there has  → There’ve / There’s

There’ve been some strange noises at night these past few days.

There’s been something different about you lately.

These have → These’ve

Put on different shoes, these’ve got mud on them.

Who has → Who’s

Who’s got the chalk? 

Contractions with “Would”

I would → I’d

I’d love to visit but flights are too expensive.

You would → You’d

If you’d stop panicking, you could do your job.

He would → He’d

He’d be better off in a different city.

She would → She’d

She’d like to get a pet dog.

We would → We’d

We’d hate to upset you.

They would → They’d

They’d enjoy this if they could come.

It would → It’d

It’d be great if you could come watch our child tonight.

That would → That’d

I’d like to go to the circus, I think that’d be fun.

These would → These’d

I love peonies! These’d make a great addition to my garden.

There would → There’d

There’d be no sunshine without you!

English Contractions with “Had”

Note: The contractions for “had” and “would” look exactly the same! So how do you tell them apart? It is all about the context.

Contractions that use “had” are usually followed by a past participle of a verb. For example: “When she called, I’d been eating.” Note that you can’t use these contractions as just a past tense (for instance, you wouldn’t say “She’d a dog” for “she had a dog”).

There are also some common phrases that use these contractions, like “had better,” which means it’s something that should happen or be done. For example: “She’d better call me back later!”

I had → I’d

I’d never seen the beach until the summer we visited Florida.

You had → You’d

I was sorry to hear that you’d been waiting

He had → He’d

She wanted to buy tickets to the theater but he’d already seen the movie.

She had → She’d

She’d found the perfect bag but it had sold out.

We had → We’d

We wanted to win the soccer match last month, so we’d practiced a lot.

They had → They’d

They’d finished cooking dinner by the time we got home.

There had → There’d

When to the office, there’d been no one there.

English Negative Contractions (Contractions with “Not”)

Do not → Don’t

I don’t know.

Cannot → Can’t

You can’t do that!

Must not → Mustn’t

You mustn’t do that!

Note: This contraction is most commonly used in British English.

Are not → Aren’t

They aren’t coming to the party tonight.

Could not → Couldn’t

She couldn’t sit through the movie without getting scared.

Would not → Wouldn’t

Your parents wouldn’t like your behavior right now.

Should not → Shouldn’t

You shouldn’t eat too much junk food.

Is not → Isn’t

It isn’t healthy to eat a lot of fast food, either.

Does not → Doesn’t

He doesn’t understand what you said.

Did not → Didn’t

Mom, I didn’t do it!

Has not → Hasn’t

The mail still hasn’t come today.

Had not → Hadn’t

I hadn’t thought of that solution before.

Have not → Haven’t

They haven’t done anything wrong.

Was not → Wasn’t

This wasn’t a good idea.

Will not → Won’t

I won’t be able to make it to the meeting.

Were not → Weren’t

Luckily, we weren’t hurt in the car accident.

Am not; are not; is not; has not; have not → Ain’t

ain’t interested in that kind of thing.

Note: This is a regional word, sometimes considered slang.

Miscellaneous Contractions

Let us → Let’s

Let’s go to the mall.

You all → Y’all

Y’all better pay attention.

Note: This is a regional word, sometimes considered slang.

Where did → Where’d

Where’d you go? I miss you so! It seems like it’s been forever that you’ve been gone.

How did → How’d

How’d you know I was in the library?

Why did → Why’d

You threw that rubber band at me! Why’d you do that?

Who did → Who’d

When you went to the store, who’d you see?

When did → When’d

I didn’t see you come in. When’d you get here?

What did → What’d

Everything is dark! What’d you do?

Good day → G’day

G’day to you, beautiful weather we’re having!

Note: This is a contraction that’s mainly used in Australia.

Madam → Ma’am

Have a good day, ma’am.

Note: Sometimes, contractions are used to shorten words, instead of combining them. Ma’am is one example of this.

Of the clock → O’clock

The time is five o’clock.

(Yes, this is a contraction, too!)

How to Use Contractions the Right Way in English

Okay, so now you know the common contractions in English—but you might not be comfortable using them yet. Here are some rules to help you speak or write confidently with contractions.

  • Do not double up on contractions. There should only be one apostrophe in a word. For example, “you’re’nt” is not proper English and is just plain weird.
  • With the exception of negative contractions, most contractions cannot go at the end of a sentence. Make sure to say the entire phrase. For example:

    “Is the cold contagious?”

    Correct: “The doctor said it is.”

    Incorrect: “The doctor said it’s.”

    However, negative contractions can end a sentence. Take a look at this example:

    Correct: “If he goes to the party, I won’t.” (Here, we get a full understanding of the speaker’s intentions. The speaker will not go to the party.)

    Incorrect: “If he goes to the party, I’ll.” (Here, the meaning is unclear. This sentence leaves the listener wondering: “You will what? You will go to the party, or you will avoid him?”)

  • Contractions that sound very much like other words (also known as homophones) typically are not used at the end of sentences, either. These include it’s (sounds like its), they’re (sounds like there or their) and you’re (sounds like your).

    For example, if we ask the question: “Are they coming on vacation?”

    Correct: “Yes, they are.”

    Incorrect: “Yes, they’re.”

Most of the time, it is acceptable to use contractions in everyday English. People use them all of the time in both spoken and written English. However, sometimes contractions are considered less formal than the full phrase. Saying “I can’t help you” is more casual than saying “I cannot help you.”

Also, be aware that the words “y’all” and “ain’t” may be considered slang, depending on where you are. Some American dialects consider these contractions acceptable and use them a lot. In other places and situations, these words are considered very poor English and should be avoided. If you are in an English class, it is probably better to not use these words.

Make sure to always assess the situation to see if using a contraction is appropriate. Most of the time, though, using a standard contraction will be just fine.

Resources to Practice Using Contractions

To master contractions, you first need to memorize the list provided above. But you also need to be exposed to different speaking styles or dialects.

Practice with as many language partners or native speakers as possible. Even native speakers from the same area may speak differently and use different contractions.

If you need to find an English speaker to practice with, try using Wyzant, where you can choose from hundreds of English tutors to find one that matches your goals, learning style and budget. Wyzant is a cool option because you can choose in-person lessons or virtual tutoring using a webcam.

Most Wyzant tutors are experienced, certified educators who will have no problem providing expert contraction guidance or help with any other language need. Browse the profiles to start exploring your options.

You should also watch movies, YouTube videos and listen to songs from people from different English-speaking places. They can show contractions as used by native speakers, which will help you learn how to use them naturally. 

For example, here is a YouTube video that uses the popular song “Call Me Maybe” to help explain contractions. It also has some more examples of slang contractions that are sometimes used in English.

If you want to hear more sophisticated language, watch a movie with very proper English, such as “Pride and Prejudice.” If you want to hear dialects with a lot of contractions and slang, you could try watching the popular TV series “The Walking Dead.”

But again, try watching all kinds of different shows and movies. The more English you are exposed to, the more you will learn!

Another resource is the language learning program FluentU. It has a library of short authentic videos that cover different topics. Each clip has interactive captions, so you can spot contractions and see how they’re used in context. You can also click on a contraction, or any other word or phrase, to get information about its definition, grammar and usage in sentences.

You can also get some interactive practice with online quizzes. Here are three to try:

  • This quiz gives you a full sentence with a phrase that can be turned into a contraction. It gives you different answer choices to choose from and you need to pick the contraction that uses the apostrophe correctly.
  • This next quiz gives you a sentence and a phrase that needs to be turned into a contraction. However, there are no answer choices given and you need to write the phrase in its contraction form. It is very good practice!
  • The English Language Centres provide some more examples of contractions being used in sentences. There is also a quiz at the very bottom where you need to choose the correct contraction based on the context of the sentence.

    Unlike the other quizzes, this one does not tell you which phrase to use ahead of time. You have to figure it out yourself!

 

Now that you have learned the basics of contractions, use these resources and any others you can find to master contractions and improve your English!

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