99 English Contractions That Native Speakers Use Every Day

You have probably heard someone use phrases like won’t or y’all before. They are in songs and in quotes. They can be heard on TV and in everyday conversations.

These are all examples of common contractions in English. They help simplify the language.

In this post, we will show you useful English contractions that you can memorize to improve your listening and reading comprehension.

We will also explain how you should use these contractions in your own speaking and writing, to get you sounding fluent faster.

Can’t wait to get started? Let’s begin!


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 really cute puppies!
We are We're We're probably going to be late.
It is It's It's not a problem.
That is That's That's awesome!
Here is Here's Here's the car I told you about.
There is There's There's a fly in my soup!
Who is Who's Who's going to the party tonight?
Where is Where's Where's my key?
When is When's Congratulations! When's the wedding?
Why is Why's Why's he looking at me like that?
What is What's What's for dinner?
How is How's How's the new job?
Everybody is Everybody's Everybody's here now!
Nobody is Nobody's Looks like nobody's coming to the party.
Something is Something's Something's making a funny noise.
So is So's I'm done with my food, and so's he.

English Contractions with “Will”

I will I'll I'll finish the 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 dark.
It will It'll Come to the party! It'll be fun!
We will We'll We'll arrive around 3 p.m.
That will That'll I'm not sure that'll be enough.
This will This'll This'll only take a minute.
These will These'll Those are too expensive. These'll work just as well.
There will There'll There'll be about 30 people at the meeting.
Where will Where'll Where'll you go next?
Who will Who'll Who'll take care of you when you get older?
What will What'll He lost his job last week. What'll he do now?
How will How'll Our phones don't work here. How'll we contact 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 new job recently.
She has She's She's already booked her hotel room.
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 We should've turned left at the last light.
Could have Could've She could've scored high on the test, but she didn't study enough.
Would have Would've I didn't know you were at the party. I would've said hello!
Might have Might've I might've missed the error if you didn't point it out to me.
Must have Must've I must've forgotten the extra pens. I'm sorry.
What have What've Oh no! What've you done?
What has What's What's he been doing lately?
Where have Where've Where've they already traveled to?
Where has Where's Where's the cat been hiding?
There have There've There've been a lot of thunderstorms this summer.
There has There's There's been something different about you lately.
These have These've Wear your other shoes; these've got mud on them.
Who has Who's Who's got the marker?

Notice that the contractions in this table that end with “s” look exactly the same as contractions using “is.”

So, both “he has” and “he is” contract to form “he’s.” Same with “she has,” “what has” and more.

Pay attention to the context of the sentence to understand the difference between these forms!

English Contractions with “Would”

I would I'd I'd love to visit, but plane tickets are expensive.
You would You'd I think you'd be a great salesman.
He would He'd He'd probably be happier in a different city.
She would She'd She'd like to get a dog.
We would We'd We'd love to go see that new movie.
They would They'd If my parents were here, they'd really like this hotel.
It would It'd It'd be cheaper to buy all the tickets together.
That would That'd Do you want to go to the circus? I think that'd be a fun experience.
These would These'd I love sunflowers! These'd look great in my garden.
There would There'd If he doesn't come, then there'd only be five people for dinner.

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.”

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 something should happen or be done. For example: “She’d better call me back later!”

I had I'd I'd never been to the beach until last summer.
You had You'd You'd better come look at this.
He had He'd She wanted to go to the movies, but he'd already seen the film.
She had She'd After searching for a month, she'd finally found the perfect bag.
We had We'd We'd practiced often so that we could win the soccer match.
They had They'd They'd already finished cooking by the time we arrived.
There had There'd They went to the house that morning, but there'd been no one at home.

Negative Contractions in English

All of these contractions use the word “not” to form a negative meaning.

Do not Don't I don't know.
Cannot Can't You can't have any more cookies.
Must not Mustn't You mustn't touch that.
Are not Aren't They aren't coming to dinner tonight.
Could not Couldn't She was so full that she couldn't eat another bite.
Would not Wouldn't My sister wouldn't ride a bike until she was 11 years old.
Should not Shouldn't You shouldn't watch too much TV.
Is not Isn't That building isn't safe.
Does not Doesn't He doesn't understand what you said.
Did not Didn't I didn't go grocery shopping today.
Has not Hasn't The mail still hasn't come yet.
Had not Hadn't I hadn't thought of that solution.
Have not Haven't They haven't seen that movie.
Was not Wasn't That wasn't a good idea.
Will not Won't I won't be able to attend 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 I ain't interested in dance classes.

Note that the word “mustn’t” is most commonly used in British English.

You should also be aware that the word “ain’t” is regional, and is considered slang in many areas.

Miscellaneous Contractions in English

Let us Let's Let's go shopping this afternoon.
You all Y'all Y'all need to pay attention.
Where did Where'd Where'd the dog go?
How did How'd How'd you know I was at the library?
Why did Why'd Why'd you throw that paper ball at me?
Who did Who'd Who'd you see at the store?
When did When'd I didn't see you come in! When'd you get here?
What did What'd What'd you find?
Good day G'day G'day to you!
Madam Ma'am Have a good evening, ma'am.
Of the clock O'clock It's five o'clock now.

Just like “ain’t,” the word “y’all” is regional and is considered slang in some places.

The contraction “g’day” is mainly used in Australia.

How to Use Contractions in English the Right Way

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 English Contractions

To master contractions, you will first want 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.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

  FluentU Ad

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 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!
  • This site provides 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!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe