How to Use Apostrophes to Shorten Words

Have you ever heard people using words like ‘you’re’ and ‘we’re’ when speaking English? Well, many native English speakers often use these shortened words (also known as abbreviations) in conversations. They are shortened by removing letters from a word and adding an apostrophe in its place. This is also done to combine two words to make a shortened phrase. Apostrophes are used a lot in this way, especially in fictional texts, and this article is going to help you learn how to use apostrophes to shorten words. 

USING APOSTROPHES TO SHORTEN WORDS 

Example 1

  • You are the greatest boxer.
How to Use Apostrophes to Shorten Words - Simply Better English
How to Use Apostrophes to Shorten Words – Simply Better English

This can be shortened to:

  • You’re the greatest boxer.’

As you can see, the apostrophe is placed where the ‘a’ formally was.

Example 2

  • I have gone to the supermarket.

This can be shortened to:

  • I’ve gone to the supermarket.’

In this example, not only is the apostrophe placed where the omitted letter was, the words are also joined together to form one word.

COMMONLY SHORTENED WORDS

Here are some words that are commonly shortened in English.

  • we are
  • he is
  • she is
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 1

What are the short versions of these words? Write them down and check your answers at the end of the article.

USING ABBREVIATED WORDS IN SENTENCES

Here are some examples to show you how to insert the abbreviations into sentences.

  • ‘We’re all going on a relaxing summer holiday.’
  • ‘He’s going back to Berlin.’
  • ‘She’s a professional photographer.’
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 2

Here are some sentences that have already been abbreviated. Try to write them in their original form.

  • ‘I know that I’ve got to do my homework.’
  • ‘Shelly will be back when she’s finished jogging.’
  • ‘I think he’s famous.’

COMMONLY SHORTENED WORDS PART 2

Here are some more words that are commonly abbreviated in the English language.

‘I will’ 

  • ‘I will go to the cinema to today’

This can be shortened to:

‘I’ll go to the cinema today.’

‘It is’

  • ‘It is Friday today!’

This can be shortened to:

  • ‘It’s Friday today!’

IT’S VERSES ITS

The word ‘it’s’ can be written in two ways. Number 1: ‘it’s‘ is used as an abbreviation of ‘it is‘.

Example 3

  • ‘It’s finally Christmas!’
  • ‘How did you know that it’s raining?’

On the other hand, the word ‘its’ is used to show belonging. These two are often confused. If you are not sure which one to use always think, can I use the long form of ‘it’s’?

Example 4

  • ‘I know that it’s a long day.’

Taking into account the rule above, does the sentence below make sense?

  • ‘I know that it is a long day.’

The answer is yes because the sentence also makes sense when ‘it’s‘ is used in its longer form.

Example 5

  • ‘Jack could see its long nail poking out from under the bed.’

Using our rule again, check if this sentence is correct:

  • ‘Jack could see it is long nail poking out from under the bed.’

Does the sentence above make sense? The answer is no. We can see the long nail belongs to someone or something. This means that the writer needed to use ‘its’.

Always remember: it’s stands for it is.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 3

Here are some sentences where each has a word missing. Write them out and include ‘it’s’ or ‘its’ in each one.

  • ‘I can’t believe … hand was broken!’
  • On Sunday, … my birthday.’
  • ‘Jamie told me … going to be a good day.’

Use the table below to help you with your answers.

Original Words
Abbreviation
cannot can’t
could not couldn’t
he is he’s
I am I’m
I have I’ve
I will I’ll
I would I’d
is not isn’t
it is it’s
let us let’s
she is she’s
that is that’s
we are we’re
we would we’d
you are you’re

Activity 4

Read the paragraph below. Three words have been abbreviated. Try to write the paragraph again using the long form of each abbreviated word.

  • Suddenly, I walked to the kitchen. I knew that we’d be going to the party soon and I knew it was time to get ready. After a short while, I heard a noise. I opened the door and I saw my cat. She knew that she’d be picked up and brought into the kitchen.  You’re a mysterious one, I thought to myself.

There are many occasions when people use apostrophes to shorten words when speaking and writing in English. When writing abbreviated words, the main thing to remember is that the apostrophe takes the place of the omitted letter(s). Also, remember that the two original words now become one word.

Here are the answers to the activities in the article.

Activity 1

  • we are = we’re
  • he is = he’s
  • she is = she’s

Activity 2

  • ‘I know that I have got to do my homework.’
  • Shelly will be back when she is finished jogging’
  • ‘I think he is famous.’

Activity 3

  • ‘I can’t believe its hand was broken!’
  • ‘On Sunday, it’s my birthday.’
  • ‘Jamie told me it’s going to be a good day.’

Activity 4

Suddenly, I walked to the kitchen door. I knew that we would be going to the party soon and I knew it was time to get ready. After a short while, I heard a noise. I opened the door and I saw my cat. She knew that she would be picked up and brought into the kitchen.  You are a mysterious one, I thought to myself.

How did you do? Did you need to use Grammarly for help? Tell us your results in the comments.

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