People are always looking for faster, easier and more efficient ways of doing things – and communicating in a language is no exception.

In English, you’ll often see two or more words put together to make one. These are called contracted forms. They are particularly common with auxiliary verbs (like be, do and have) and modal verbs (like can, will and must):

  • We’re going home. (We are going home.)
  • She doesn’t like it. (She does not like it.)
  • I’ve done it. (I have done it.)
  • You can’t help. (You cannot help.)
  • They’ll come back. (They will come back.)
  • He mustn’t have seen it. (He must not have seen it.)

Be careful, though, as ‘d could be had or would and, as well as being used for is and has, ‘s is also used to show possession:

  • I’d already eaten. (I had already eaten.)
  • He’d buy a different one. (He would buy a different one.)
  • It’s important. (It is important.)
  • She’s sent the email. (She has sent the email.)
  • My brother’s job (‘the job of my brother’)

English is not the only language which has forms like this. If you’re looking for examples in German, a typical one is Wie geht’s? (How are you?) instead of Wie geht es?

In English, you’ll see these forms used all the time in private emails and text messages, on social media and in advertising.

In formal business correspondence, however, like a letter sent by a bank to all of its customers, a job application or a notice on the wall at a train station, the contracted forms should never be used. But it is generally ok to use them in informal business situations, such as when writing an email to a colleague, or even to a customer or client who you know well.

Although you’re more likely to see them in informal contexts like in pop songs, you might hear the contracted forms of going to (gonna), want to (wanna) and got to (gotta) in everyday business situations:

  • We’re gonna start the meeting in ten minutes. (We’re going to start the meeting in ten minutes.)
  • Do you wanna say something about that, Chris? (Do you want to say something about that, Chris?)
  • I’ve gotta make a decision soon. (I have got to make a decision soon./I have to make a decision soon.)


There’s no problem if you don’t use the contracted forms – remember that the full forms are totally acceptable, too. But once you recognise how often you see and hear them, you’ll realise that they’re not only faster, easier and more efficient, they also sound much more natural, too!

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