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The most common contractions in English language

Some authors refer to contractions as examples of elision. But contractions are regularly represented with special spelling forms which make them different from examples of elision.

The most common forms of contractions are:

Not

It is spelt "n’t", pronounced /nt/. There are vowel changes associated with "n’t"; “Can” /kæn/ becomes /kɑːnt/ (in some varieties of English), “Do” /du:/ becomes /doʊnt/.

Will

It is spelt "‘ll", pronounced /l/.

Is/has

They are both spelt "‘s", pronounced /s/ after fortis consonants, /z/ after lenis consonants. “Is” is pronounced /iz/ after /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /tʃ/, /ʒ/, and /dʒ/. “Has” is pronounced /əz/ in contracted forms.

Have

It is spelt "‘ve", pronounced /v/ after vowels, /əv/ after consonants.

Had/would

They are both spelt "‘d", pronounced /d/ after vowels, /əd/ after consonants.

Are

It is spelt "‘re", pronounced /ə/ after vowels but usually with a change in the pronunciation of the preceding vowel – “You” /ju:/ becomes “you’re” /yʊər/; “We” /wi:/ becomes “we’re” /wɪə/; “They” /ðeɪ/ becomes “they’re” /ðɛər/. Contracted “are” is pronounced as /ə/ or /ər/ when following a consonant. The linking “r” is used when a vowel follows.


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