It’s or its – contractions in English

24 lipca 2017, poniedziałek,

A major source of confusion for students of English is how and when to use apostrophes and what the resulting meaning of these words can possibly be.

One example is the troublesome it’s which can mean it is or it has as in the example: „It’s been a long time since I’ve played a piano so it’s difficult for me to play.” Which means „It HAS been a long time….so it IS difficult for me to play. *Students often forget that the possessive ITS does NOT use an apostrophe. “I have a car and ITS (the car’s) tires need to be changed for winter.”

Any ‚s can generally mean HAS or IS when contracting two words into one.

Another contraction that can have two meanings is the ‚d which can be a shortened form of WOULD or HAD so you can have sentences such as „He’d have called you if he’d had your number.” – He WOULD have called you if he HAD had your number.

We will know from the context what ‚d means and there is really no possibility for ambiguity.

(c) Mat Wright

All of the other many contractions are really pretty clear.


‚ll = will   – I’ll call you tomorrow.   He’ll be there.

‚re = are – We’re sure they’re on their way.

‚s = is – He’s angry. Bob’s coming.  The car’s on fire!


‚ve = have – I’ve got a headache.  *REMEMBER! Never finish the sentence with the contracted I’ve.

A: Have you been to China?

B: Yes, I’ve. – NO!

It should be B: Yes, I have.


n’t = not  – Don’t do that! I don’t know. It isn’t here.  This one is particularly interesting because it isn’t consistent with the pattern.  We cut the first two letters and then pop the apostrophe in between the nt where the ‚o‚ was and have a clean connection to the former word.  After all we say don’t NOT do’nt or do’n’t.

It does this all the time: wasn’t, weren’t, hasn’t, haven’t.


According to English scholars and linguistic geeks there are legendary circumstances where many contractions can be strung together. I’d’ve = I would have. To do such a thing is considered bad form in any situation.  It is generally understood that a writer of English language should choose to contract only one of the words and not both hence I would’ve OR I’d have but NEVER I’d’ve.  Remember, how the words sound when pronounced does not always reflect spelling rules.

Formal writing usually discourages contractions all together and they are used in informal texts mostly. Extremely informal writing styles, which are becoming increasingly popular, throw most academic guidelines out the window all together.


So that’s really all there is to English contractions.  Please don’t confuse your ‚s (is) with the possessive ending ‚s.

Bob’s cat is called Norm. (The cat which belongs to Bob is called Norm.)


Hey maybe that’s why people MISTAKENLY think ‘it’s’ can be the possessive pronoun!! My car’s tires are flat. It’s tires… no no no no

…its tires are flat!