A List of Contractions Commonly Used in Informal English

Contractions in a sentence from Our Mutual Friend (1865) by Charles Dickens.
Contractions in a sentence from Our Mutual Friend (1865) by Charles Dickens.
Contractions are the closest thing to hip talk I can use without just sounding silly.
(Paula Poundstone, There's Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say. Three Rivers Press, 2006)

A contraction is a word or phrase that's (or that has) been shortened by dropping one or more letters. In writing, an apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters.

We rely on contractions all the time in normal conversations.

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.

In the following table, you'll find a list of 50 of the most frequently used contractions in English.

Standard Contractions in English

aren'tare not
couldn'tcould not
didn'tdid not
doesn'tdoes not
don'tdo not
hadn'thad not
hasn'thas not
haven'thave not
he'dhe had; he would
he'llhe will; he shall
he'she is; he has
I'dI had; I would
I'llI will; I shall
I'mI am
I'veI have
isn'tis not
it'sit is; it has
let'slet us
mightn'tmight not
mustn't must not
shan'tshall not
she'dshe had; she would
she'llshe will; she shall
she'sshe is; she has
shouldn'tshould not
that'sthat is; that has
there'sthere is; there has
they'dthey had; they would
they'llthey will; they shall
they'rethey are
they'vethey have
we'dwe had; we would
we'rewe are
we'vewe have
weren'twere not
what'llwhat will; what shall
what'rewhat are
what'swhat is; what has; what does
what'vewhat have
where'swhere is; where has
who'dwho had; who would
who'llwho will; who shall
who'swho is; who has
who'vewho have
won'twill not
wouldn'twould not
you'dyou had; you would
you'llyou will; you shall
you'reyou are
you'veyou have

For more information about contracted word forms, read about ​notes on contractions in English.