Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Common Problems (Part 25 of 50)

Don't be afraid of contractions. Otherwise, the writing sounds stilted. Write the way people talk.

* Could you not have spared me this disgrace?
* He was not surprised. It was not my first arrest.
* The sailors on that ship did not believe in the God of the Jews.

If you're writing an academic paper, don't use contractions. If you write dialog and want to show a formal, stuffy individual, don't use contractions.

We write for the general public 
and we keep our language informal.

* * * * * * * * * *

Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available.


  1. Thanks for saying this. I had a former English teacher tell me to take all the contractions out of my first book. I obeyed, and it sounded NOT ME! Later, I revised it to make it real. I don't say, "Cec, can you not see that balloon?" I say, "Can't you see that?"

    My book comes out in April.

  2. Jeanette offers a practical suggestion. It used to be in popular writing (and still in formal, academic material), they frown on contractions. But as Jeanette implies, it’s the way we talk. And good writing for the general/commercial market is to sound like ourselves.


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