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Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)

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Category : Writing Tips

College Essays – The Importance of Concision

When writing academic or technical text, strive to present your research and/or ideas in a concise manner. Some inexperienced writers try to add text to make their point sound more scholarly. In truth, wordiness can cloud your ideas and muddle your point. Most academic and technical authors should be very frugal in their use of words. In an attempt to cut down the extra words in your text, always write a rough draft. Most rough drafts are written much like you think or talk and will thus contain more words than necessary. Take the time to re-read this rough draft several times and ask yourself what is really necessary. Remove extraneous adjectives, adverbs, and redundant words and points. Whenever possible, simplify the sentence structure. Remove words that may be implied by other words in the sentence. Avoid the use of wordy phrases that can be replaced by one or two words (e.g., use “now” instead of “at the present time”). After all, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson, is credited as stating, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

Contractions in Writing: When to Use Them and When to Avoid Them

Contractions are quite commonplace in today’s spoken and written English. A contraction is the combination of two words into a shortened form with the omission of some internal letters and the use of an apostrophe. For example, “I’ve” is the contraction for “I have.” As you can see, the “h” and “a” have been omitted and the remaining letters of the two words have been connected by an apostrophe. For a longer list of commonly used English contractions, see the post entitled Commonly Used Contractions.

Now that we know what a contraction is, we must determine when we should avoid them or use them. The answer lies in the formality of the document that you are preparing. If you are engaged in formal writing, I would suggest that you avoid using all contractions. This includes cover letters, résumés, theses, essays, etc. Because the use of contractions seems more informal, you should avoid them in any instance in which you want to portray a professional, respected image.

However, some types of text benefit from the inclusion of contractions. Specifically, if you want your text to have a more informal, conversational tone, sprinkling some contractions throughout your writing can help you accomplish this. These types of text may include fictional stories or novels, dialogue, or personal letters or emails.

Common Contractions in the English Language

Following is a list of commonly used contractions, their full form, and an example sentence showing their use:

Contraction——–Full form————-Example

Aren’t—- ———-Are not————– They aren’t coming with us to the store.

Can’t—————Cannot—————They can’t come with us to the store.

Didn’t————–Did not—————She didn’t want to come with us.

Don’t—————Do not————— Don’t you want to come with us?

Doesn’t————Does not————- He doesn’t have time to come along.

Hadn’t————-Had not————– They hadn’t been to this store before today.

Hasn’t————-Has not—————She hasn’t made up her mind yet.

Haven’t————Have not————-I haven’t decided whether I will go or not.

Isn’t—————-Is not—————- He isn’t planning to come along.

Mustn’t————-Must not————-You mustn’t stay up past your bedtime.

Needn’t————-Need not————-You needn’t worry about your friend.

Shouldn’t———–Should not———–Children shouldn’t walk to the store alone.

Wasn’t————– Was not————-Tom wasn’t planning to go with us.

Weren’t————-Were not————You weren’t at the store when we got there.

Won’t————— Will not————- Barbara won’t miss us while we are gone.

Wouldn’t————Would not———-Grandpa wouldn’t let us walk to the store alone.

Let’s—————–Let us————– Let’s go to the store.

I’m—————— I am—————- I’m ready to go now.

I’ll—————— I will—————-I’ll go to the store tomorrow.

I’ve—————– I have————– I’ve been to the store already.

I’d—————— I had or I would—-I’d already been by the time she came or I’d like to go.

She’ll/He’ll———-She/He will——— She’ll go, too.

She’s/He’s———- She/He is or has— He’s going to come or She’s been gone for a while.

She’d/He’d———-She/He had or would————-She’d like to come or He’d been gone for a long time.

You’re————– You are————- You’re welcome to come along.

You’ll————— You will————- You’ll see her when we go to the store.

You’d————— You had or would– You’d been there before, right? or You’d better leave.

You’ve————– You have————You’ve been a blessing throughout this situation.

We’re————— We are————- We’re leaving now.

We’ll—————- We will————- We’ll go to the store later.

We’d—————- We had or would— We’d been down that road before or We’d love to come!

We’ve————— We have————We’ve enjoyed your company.

They’ll————– They will————They’ll enjoy going along.

They’re————- They are————They’re planning to make the trip.

They’d————– They had or would—They’d been there before or They’d enjoy seeing it again.

They’ve————- They have———- They’ve enjoyed the trip so far.

It’s—————— It is—————– It’s a joy to travel with my kids.

It’ll—————— It will————— It’ll be a nice experience for them.

It’d——————It had or would—–It’d been the fastest trip yet or It’d be nice to go along.

There’ll————–There will———- There’ll be great joy when it is over.

There’s————- There is or has—– There’s my mom or There’s been a feeling of joy with this trip.

There’ve————There have———-There’ve been a few problems along the way.

That’s————— That is————– That’s my son!

That’d—————That had or would–That’d been the focus of the trip or That’d be my answer, too.

That’ll—————That will————-That’ll be the day!