Contractions are used more often that individual words in speech, but when writing, it is considered more formal (and therefore "proper") to write words out rather than using contractions. This depends on the style of writing you are doing, however. If you are writing a research paper, try to avoid contractions. If you're writing dialog between two characters in a work of fiction, use whatever kind of language that the characters would say if they were alive and speaking them!
What is a contraction? It's simply making two words into one. Here are a some examples:
You're instead of you are.
You'll instead of you will.
Can't instead of can not.
Won't instead of will not.
They'll instead of they will.
I'm instead of I am.
Would've instead of would have.
Shan't instead of shall not. (This one is created differently from the rest!)
As you can see above, most of the time all you need to do to make a contraction is to add an apostrophe after the first word, followed by the second word, without the first vowels, or if the first letter is not a vowel, without all the first letters up to (and including) the first vowel.
They'll is a combination of they and will. Since "will" does not start with a vowel, we get rid of the "w" and get to the "i." The "i" is a vowel, so we remove it also. Then we combine the two, and we have our contraction!
Try these (answers below):
1. Does not
2. It has
3. Could have
Note: There are contractions like shan't which are considered irregular. For example o'clock is a contraction for "of the clock."
Answers to above:
We're done with contractions now, so why don't you go ahead and select another Writing Topic in the Writing Lesson Center!