To Be and To Have contractions
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Hi I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Now I thought today, I’d do a little bit more on some English grammar. I’ve done a podcast previously on The Present Tense and I did another one on the Most Common 100 Words in English. And today I thought we’d have a look at something called contractions.
Now if you have a look at the photograph associated with this podcast, you’ll see there the words ‘I’ve’, ‘She’s’, ‘We’re’ and etcetera. So the ….e.t.c at the end just is a little bit of Latin that we use all the time in English, ‘Et cetera’ it would be in Latin, ‘etcetera’ we say in English. And it just means ‘And the rest’.
So ‘I’ve’ actually is a contracted form of ‘I have’.
‘She’s’ is a contracted form of either ‘She is’ or ‘She has’
And ‘We’re’ is the contracted form of ‘We are’.
Now if you have a look at the photograph, you’ll see that there’s a little purple flower and each little purple flower stands in place of what’s called ‘an apostrophe’ (’). And when you contract words together in English, the apostrophe stands in place of the missed letters. Now if you’re writing a formal report or if you’re doing a formal speech or say, an essay that you’re submitting for a course that you’re doing, you wouldn’t put contractions in there. You’d write it out in full – she has, we are, I have. But if you’re speaking English, unless you’re giving a very formal speech, most of the time we contract. And we do it all over the place, with all kinds of verbs.
Today I’ve chosen to give you some examples and work on the contractions that occur in the verb to have and the verb to be, as these ones are what you’re gonna come across most regularly. Now this podcast – as with all the others – there is an associated PDF file. So if you come to our website at www.adeptenglish.com, you’ll find there an MP3 version of the podcast, as ever, which you can download to your phone and listen to lots of times. And there’s a PDF file – so if you want to have a look at the contractions that I’m talking about, that may be easier. Or it may be that this is really revision for you and you know this quite well, but it may just be good to go over it again.
Ok, so if we start with the verb to be, erm…I’ll run through in the usual order.
I am I’m I’m having my hair cut
You are You’re You’re in the middle
(So beware confusion when you write this with ‘your’ as in the possessive pronoun – so as in ‘your shoe’ or ‘your cat’ is spelt differently.)
He is (or she is) He’s (or she’s) He’s running fast. She’s taller than him.
We are We’re We’re very happy.
And here, when you’re writing it down, beware the confusion with ‘were’ as in ‘they were’ (e.g. ‘They were small’). It’s the same – apart from that there’s an apostrophe in the middle of ‘We’re’.
They are They’re Oh! They’re in the kitchen.
Now, it gets even more interesting when you’ve got negative verb to be. So if you want to say the negative for these sentences, you’ve got some choice!
I’m having my hair cut. I’m not having my hair cut.
So that’s the same, but if you’re using ‘you’, you’ve got choices.
You’re in the middle. You’re not in the middle
You aren’t in the middle
Either will do.
We’re very happy We’re not very happy
We aren’t very happy
He’s running fast He’s not running fast
He isn’t running fast
She’s taller than him She’s not taller than him
She isn’t taller than him
They’re in the kitchen They’re not in the kitchen
They aren’t in the kitchen
Now I’ve thought really hard about this – what is the difference? And I’ve come to conclusion that that really there isn’t [one] – so just pick one and use the one you feel comfortable with, but be aware that it’s possible to say it both ways round.
So if we move onto the verb to have.
I have I’ve I’ve got a blue car
I’ve seen that film
You have You’ve You’ve scored the most goals
He has He’s He’s forgotten the way home
She has She’s She’s forgotten the way home
It has It’s It’s all gone wrong
We have We’ve We’ve eaten our breakfast
They have They’ve They’ve gone home
Now, notice here this contaction is used mainly where the verb to have is part of the past tense, the perfect tense – so I’ve seen instead of I have seen, you’ve scored instead of you have scored. If it’s being used to show that you possess something, quite often you might find that it’s not shortened, so you might say….rather than saying ‘I’ve a cat’, you might say ‘I have a cat’ or ‘You have a dog’. But it’s possible to do either.
If you want to make these contractions negative with the verb to have, again you’ve… like the verb to be, you’ve got choices. So…
I’ve got a blue car I’ve not got a blue car
I haven’t got a blue car
It’s entirely up to you which you use.
I’ve seen that film I’ve not seen that film
I haven’t seen that film
You’ve scored most goals You’ve not scored most goals
You haven’t scored most goals
He’s forgotten the way home He’s not forgotten the way home
He hasn’t forgotten the way home
We’ve eaten our breakfast We’ve not eaten our breakfast
We haven’t eaten our breakfast
They’ve gone home They’ve not gone home
They haven’t gone home
If you did the negative for possession, you’re not likely to say ‘I haven’t a cat’ or ‘you haven’t a dog’. Probably you would add in the word ‘got’ – so you would say ‘I haven’t got a cat’ or ‘I’ve not got a cat’, ‘You haven’t got a dog’ or ‘You’ve not got a dog’.
Now, let’s make this slightly more interesting. What I’m gonna do next is just give you some sentences, which use examples of all these different forms. So I’m gonna read you out some sentences. The first lot will be the verb to be, the second lot will be the verb to have – in the positive sense and in the negative sense.
Now, either..with these, you can press pause when I’ve said them and practise your pronunciation, practise repeating them back to me. Or if you want to just write them down. That might be a good test of making sure that you can write the written version of the contractions. Up to you how you use it, but I’ve designed some sentences which cover all of the things that we’ve just gone through. The aim being to make it a little bit more interesting than just running through with examples.
So verb to be – here are some sentences.
I’m listening to lots of podcasts, but I’m not understanding every word.
You’re going to the shops this afternoon, but you aren’t going on the bus and you’re not going to forget to buy the mushrooms, are you?
He’s in the final, but she isn’t in the final. She’s not as fast as he is.
We’re going on holiday to Spain next week and we’re not back ‘til two weeks on Sunday. So we aren’t going to be able to come on Tuesday.
They’re in the kitchen, but they aren’t cooking the dinner. They’re not safe getting things out of the oven.
And now some sentences for the verb to have.
I’ve finished decorating the bathroom, but I haven’t put everything back in the room. I’ve not got the energy today.
You’ve got three sisters, but you haven’t seen them for years. You’ve not stayed in contact.
She’s learned French very quickly but she’s not learned German yet. She hasn’t decided whether it’ll be German or Spanish, that she learns.
It’s very cold outside today, but it’s not snowed and it hasn’t rained.
We’ve crashed the car into the garage, but we’ve not been hurt and we haven’t knocked the house down.
They’ve eaten all the ice cream, but they’ve not eaten their broccoli and they haven’t eaten their cabbage.
OK, enough for now – have a lovely day! Visit our website and subscribe to our free course and look out for our next podcast soon. Goodbye!