English Contractions Quick Guide For Beginners And Esl Students Ep 587

A weathered brass plaque which says word. Watch this English video lesson if you want to learn how to use English contractions.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2533 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 13 min

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English Grammar Lesson - Understanding Contractions

Today we are going to cover English contractions. The most common ones, the ones you will hear native English speakers using repeatedly, all day long. This is an English grammar lesson which will help beginners grasp the use of contractions. It’s a great lesson recap for ESL students, with a short quiz at the end of the lesson to make sure you understand them.

You might have noticed the cover art for this lesson, which talks about 101. 101 was originally an academic term, but it has since migrated into everyday speech. 101 is typically used to mean the start, the beginning of a study topic or course. So the next time you hear, 101 just think of it as the beginning, the start of a topic.

✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/grammar-english-contractions/

The first known use of 101 was, as an introductory course number, found in a 1929 University of Buffalo course catalogue. The term has now migrated from academic jargon, where it referred to introductory courses, into everyday speech.

The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help. (Note the contractions!)
⭐ Ronald Reagan

The term 101 commonly describes a beginner’s guide to something, so if you’re looking for the best way to learn about something, or get started with a topic.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Catalogue: A book or a list of items, like books, products, or names.
  • Migrated: Moved from one place to another. Often used when birds fly to a warmer place in winter. Also used for people moving countries.
  • Academic: Related to school or learning. An "academic" person often likes studying and reading.
  • Contractions: In English, these are short forms of words or groups of words. For example, "I'm" is a contraction of "I am".
  • Yule: Another word for Christmas, often used in old stories or songs.
  • Invitations: Requests for someone to go somewhere or do something. For example, you get an invitation to a party.
  • Apostrophe: A punctuation mark ('). It is used for contractions (like "I'm") and to show that something belongs to someone (like "John's book").
  • Rogue: Something or someone that acts differently than expected, often in a bad way. A "rogue elephant" might cause problems for people.

Most common 2 word phrases:

It Happens2
Going To2
A Recap2
English Speaker2
Talk About2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: English Contractions Quick Guide For Beginners And ESL Students

Hi there. Today let's do some proactive work on English language. Let's talk about contractions. If you don't know what 'contractions' are, it's when we shorten and join together common words or phrases. So an example of a simple one 'I am' becomes, 'I'm'. I ' M - that's a contraction.

This is an area of English where it's easy to make mistakes. You might misunderstand what somebody's saying when you hear it, if you don't know the contraction, and it's easy to make mistakes when you write them down. But contractions are everywhere, and if you want to sound fluent and authentic and like a native English speaker, then you will use contractions.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

For some of you, this will be a recap, for others you may be learning some of this for the first time, but there'll be opportunity to test yourself on contractions as well. I'll start off easy and then I'll make it more difficult.

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A recap on contractions

So 'contractions', C O N T R A C T I O N. And we do use this word in different contexts. For example, if you're giving birth, if you're having a baby, ' contraction' is the word we use for when your muscles pull together as part of the process, the process of helping the baby come out. So certain types of contraction are very painful muscle contractions. I can attest to this. Hopefully the contractions that we're going to talk about today are not going to be quite as painful as that. I'll try to make it easy for you. The point of the word 'contraction', it means a sort of bunching, a sort of pulling together of two things. That's the meaning of 'to contract' or 'contraction'. 'To contract' can mean 'to get smaller'.

So just a recap on contractions, first of all. When we are speaking English, we often do this thing where we shorten and join two words, particularly words in common phrases and common verbs. It makes it easier to say, and really it's as though we're in a hurry. It's as if there isn't time to say the full words. So' I am' becomes,' I'm', 'he is' becomes 'he's'.

So it happens all the time in English, and it's particularly common with the verb 'to be', and the verb 'to have', and the most common pronouns. So I, you, he, we, they particularly. It's not the only place that it happens though.

But an English speaker will probably say 'I've', as in 'I have' and 'I'm' hundreds of times a day. So you'll know the more common ones, but there may be some contractions that you don't know.

Notice I said 'you'll', so Y O U ' L L. The other challenge is writing them correctly. Where does that apostrophe go? How do you spell 'you'll'? There is a different 'Yule', Y U L E, which is to do with Christmas, so it's quite easy to get confused here.


A photo of an ESL student holding an English grammar book. An English grammar lesson which will help beginners grasp the use of contractions.

©️ Adept English 2022

Decoding contractions

What about the following? It can be difficult to understand what the contraction is short for.

I'd have been really pleased if you'd invited me to the theatre, but I'd had two invitations already for Tuesday evening.

What are these contractions 'I'd' short for? Again?

I'd have been really pleased if you'd invited me to the theatre, but I'd had two invitations already for Tuesday evening.

It's not true. I don't go out that much.

So the first 'I'd' - and a native English speaker would know this straight away, they wouldn't find it difficult to arrive at the right interpretation here, at the correct meaning - the first one makes sense only if the 'I'd' is 'I would'. So....

I would have been really pleased if you'd invited me to the theatre.

Whereas the second sentence only makes sense if the 'I'd' is short for 'I had'.

But I'd had two invitations already for Tuesday evening


But I had had two invitations already for Tuesday evening.

So there's a difference even though it's the same contraction?

Can you decode the second contraction in that first sentence? The 'you'd'? What's that short for? I'll say it again.

I'd have been really pleased if you'd invited me to the theatre.

Is it 'you would', or is it 'you had'?

Well, it's short for 'you had'.

I'd have been really pleased if you had invited me to the theatre.

The meaning here is, it didn't happen. You didn't invite me, but I would've liked it if you had invited me.

And there are choice - how to contract - you choose!

Another complication - we also shorten in different ways. Sometimes there's a choice! So that example, again?

'I'd have been really pleased' - you could also say 'I would've been really pleased'. Exactly the same meaning, in the same sentence, but a different shortening. And 'would've' is W O U L D ' V E. And 'I would've' means the same as 'I'd have', so I ' D H A V E.

So it's your choice, but it can be confusing. They do actually mean the same thing there. You need to be able to recognize both.

Contractions which are homophones

Another aspect of this, some of them sound the same, even though they're written differently. And when you expand them to the full words, they are different. So let me give you some more examples of when these contractions can sound like another word. What about the following examples?

Who's the woman in the green hat?

Whose is the red car?

So you've got two different 'who's/whose' here in these sentences. If you're watching on YouTube or Spotify, you'll have captions, so you'll know the answer already to this. But the first 'who's', and the second 'whose' in these sentences are different. They're spelt differently for a reason.

So 'Who's the woman in the green hat?' is really 'Who is the woman in the green hat?'

Whereas, 'Whose is the red car?' - ' whose' there is W H O S E. That type of 'whose' means 'to whom it belongs'. It's possessive. But asking the question at the same time. 'Whose is it?', 'Who does that car belong to?' So it's a form of the question 'Who?', W H O?

Now again, native English speakers would understand the difference immediately. So that tells you that it's really just a matter of practice, of listening, and you'll automatically be able to tell the difference between these sorts of words.

When it comes to the writing down of these contractions, native English speakers get them wrong quite a bit too. It's something that English speaking children have to practise when they're learning to write English down.

The 'rogue apostrophe'

We talk in English about the 'rogue apostrophe'. An 'apostrophe' is A P O S T R O P H E. And it's that little mark that fills in the space in these contractions. We use it in other ways too. So the 'apostrophe' is the punctuation mark and when we say 'a rogue apostrophe', that's R O G U E. That can be both a noun and an adjective. Here it's an adjective. So the word 'rogue' means 'out of control, not authorized, doing the wrong thing'. If somebody 'goes rogue', it means they go off 'doing their own thing, possibly something illegal'. So a 'rogue apostrophe' is apostrophe that's ended up in the wrong place when you write something down.

So quite a challenge to practise writing these as well and a challenge to understand them when you hear them. And I think if you listen to enough English, you'll find yourself using them automatically. So 'I've' and 'I'm' are things you probably already say when you're speaking English.

Listening Lessons

A little quiz?

A little quiz on these two? So this, 'whose' and 'who is'? Can you decode the meanings of these sentences? What is the 'expanded version' of what I'm saying here? I'll say them twice so you can practise. You can say them after me if you want to practise your pronunciation.

  1. The man whose cat ran into the road was very apologetic.

The man whose cat ran into the road was very apologetic.

  1. Whose coat is this left on the floor?

Whose coat is this left on the floor?

  1. Who's the woman with the walking stick?

Who's the woman with the walking stick?

  1. The woman with the walking stick is the one who's helping me with my computer.

The woman with the walking stick is the one who's helping me with my computer.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Let us know how this podcast was for you!

OK. Was it easy to tell the difference there? How did you do at those? Basically the answers, the first two sentences are 'whose', showing possession. W H O S E. 'The man whose cat' and 'Whose coat is this?' And in the third and fourth sentence, the 'who's' is a 'who is?'. So W H O ' S. ' Who is the woman with the walking stick?'. ' She is the one who is helping me with my computer'.


OK. Let me know if this type of podcast is helpful to you. Has this helped you understand contractions a little more in English or is this stuff that you know already? We really like to hear from you, so give us some feedback.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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