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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > short or long form    

short or long form


short or long form
Good morning, 

I �ve got a question to English native speakers. 
I always thought I can use short or long forms as I want. e.g. It is Barker. It �s Barker. 
Now I found an exercise and it is asked to use long or short form. 

am/ �m   are/ �re are not/aren �t   is/ �s  is not/isn �t

Where ______ my skates? They _____ here?  
Is it a must to write: Where �re my skates?  Or is it also correct to write: Where are my skates? 

No, this _______  our tutor group.   Is it a must to write isn �t or can I write is not

Barker _______ a cat. He ____ a dog. Same question: Can I write : Barker is not a cat. He is a dog. Or is it a must to wrtie: Barker isn �t a cat. He �s a dog.

I would appreciate your help.


2 Oct 2014      


As Ben Yagoda says in The Sound on the Page (Harper, 2004), "In speech, there is an expectation that anyone who �s not prissy or pretentious or is emphasizing a point will use [contractions] whenever possible."
Some people are under the impression that contractions should never appear in writing, but this belief is mistaken. The use of contractions is directly related to tone. In informal writing (from text messages and blogs to memos and personal essays), we often rely on contractions to maintain a colloquial tone. In more formal writing assignments (such as academic reports or term papers), avoiding contractions is a way of establishing a more serious tone.
Before deciding whether to use contractions in a writing assignment, consider your audience and your purpose for writing.

3 Oct 2014     

United States

serzt gives some good general advice. I �ll provide some specifics for your examples.
"Where �re" is not actually a word. You will see it in print when the writer is trying to capture an informal pronunciation, so the only option here is "Where are my skates?".
I �m guessing that the question mark after "They _____ here" was a mistake. Either the short or long form is correct here, depending on the formality of the writing. The contraction is definitely more common on this one.
In the remaining examples, the long form sounds very formal, so the contractions are far more common and natural, but not grammatically the only choice. You would also use the long form if you want to emphasize that a misunderstanding has happened, which you are correcting with the statements.

3 Oct 2014     


THanks for your reply

3 Oct 2014