Crazy about contractions

Die englische Sprache ist voll von zusammengezogen Formulierungen. Muttersprachler benutzen Sie ständig. Viele Deutsche scheuen sich davor, aus Angst, sie seien umgangssprachlich. Doch ohne sie kann Ihre Sprache übertrieben formell klingen. Lesen Sie, wann und wie Sie Wörter zusammenziehen sollten, um weniger steif zu wirken.

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The English language is full of contractions. Native speakers use them all the time, in both spoken and written language. Non-native speakers are often afraid of using them, especially when writing, not only because they are often not sure how to use them, but also because they are afraid they might sound too informal. But if you don't use them, you might sound far too formal and send the wrong message. There are two main kinds of contractions:

Normal contractions

These are formed by joining two words together, and then leaving out certain letters so the phrase is easier to speak.

  • I am           = I'm
  • she will       = she'll
  • it is not       = it isn't

in will not, -ill becomes -o: I will not = I won't
in shall not, -ll disappears: I shall not = shan't

Slang contractions

These are formed by making completely new words out of a phrase. They are mainly used in spoken language and rarely written down.

  • let me                      = lemme
  • give me                    = gimme
  • what are/have you   = whatcha /wotcha

This is how to use contractions

  • Use normal contractions freely in spoken language.
  • Avoid them in reports, formal business letters and emails
  • Use sparingly in business letters and emails to people you know
  • Use freely in emails between people you know well

If in doubt, follow the style of the person writing to you. If they use a lot of contractions, use them too. If their language is more formal, keep yours formal.

How to use slang contractions

Slang contractions are very rarely used in business situations. You may hear them used by companies that want to show how young and trendy they are. You may also hear them being used in negotiations, especially by Americans.
Don't use them yourself unless you are absolutely certain you know what they mean and that the person you are dealing with will understand them.

Here are some typical examples of sentences using normal contractions

  • We're glad to hear you're happy with our service.
  • There'll be problems for a lot of people if oil prices continue rising.
  • I'd like to ask you an important question.

A list of the most important contractions in the English language you'll find in Secretary Today.

Here are some typical examples of sentences using slang contractions

  • Gimme a break!
  • Ganna download some free software?
  • What kinda business are you in?
  • Howya doin'?
  • Lemme help you carry that.
  • It's been raining all week. Whatcha gonna do?

Gimme a break and Whatcha gonna do? are sometimes used jokingly by
business people. Gimme a break means Give me a chance (at last). Watcha gonna do? is a rhetorical question meaning You can't do anything.