Exercício: Using Contractions in Written English

Avatar do usuário Henry Cunha 9960 2 17 177
Written English allows us to employ many contractions that come from the spoken language. The following is useful advice about when to write using contractions:

“Technically speaking, contractions aren't necessary in written English. Using the full version of a word is always grammatically correct. However, there are a number of reasons why contractions do serve a valuable stylistic purpose. For example:
Contractions make your writing seem friendly and accessible. They give the appearance that you are actually "talking" to your reader.
When writing dialogue in a novel or play, contractions help reflect how a character actually speaks.
Contractions help to save space when preparing advertisements, slogans, and other written works that must be short and to the point.”
(from http://www.yourdictionary.com/dictionar ... tions.html)

But even in informal writing, we must select when to, and when not to, contract; and my guiding principle is to think of how a sentence might have been spoken. Here are some examples to try out. For the most part, there are no right/wrong answers. It depends on the context you envision for the statement, and consequently the stress you believe the verb would receive in each utterance:

(1) You are not sure he was right, but I am.

(2) You are not sure he was right, but I am absolutely convinced he was.

(3) You are sure he is right, and I am sure he is wrong.

(4) You would think he would have gone straight home if he had not been feeling well!

(5) I changed my mind. I had thought that way until you proved he is right.

(6) There is no contradiction: I had agreed she would go first.


Try to give a short justification for each of your choices. Have fun!
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Avatar do usuário Marcio_Farias 12350 1 22 206
A hurried speaker might have uttered #4 like this:

You'd think he'd've gone straight home if he hadn't been feelin' well!

Other English as a second language users may think differently, in which case I stand corrected.
Avatar do usuário Henry Cunha 9960 2 17 177
Marcio_Farias escreveu:A hurried speaker might have uttered #4 like this:

You'd think he'd've gone straight home if he hadn't been feelin' well!

Other English as a second language users may think differently, in which case I stand corrected.


Márcio,
Seems to me your revision is nearly perfect. In writing informally, however, a native would probably choose this version:

You'd think he would've gone straight home if he hadn't been feeling well.

In particular, "feeling" wouldn't have been abbreviated. As to the first verb sequence, written contractions aren't always a perfect reproduction of how far we may "slur" our speech.

When we use contractions in written English, it generally is not because we wish to imitate the speed at which we speak. Even speaking at a normal pace, it's normal to contract. So, in writing, we're really trying to maintain this notion of the "normal" exchange between speakers. Additionally, my point is that, on occasion, we don't contract, even when speaking. If you look at my ex #1, it's an instance where the final "I am" would not be contracted, in speech or in writing.

So, what is the point of this kind of exercise? An important one is to keep in mind this powerful connection between everyday spoken and written English, and that learning them side by side may be a very profitable approach.