Grammar & Writing Toolbox: Don't let contractions confuse you!

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A contraction is a word or phrase that’s been formed by combining two words and adding an apostrophe to replace the letter or letters that have been left out.  Since the root word “contract” means to squeeze together, the concept of forming a contraction makes logical sense to most kids. 

When two words are combined to form a contraction, the first word is never changed; it remains intact.  Some of the letters in the second word get left out and replaced by an apostrophe.  Here’s a Contraction Chart to recite with your students. 

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Contractions are used frequently during conversation and informal writing, but they are usually excluded in formal writing pieces.  Experts consider them inappropriate in formal writing because they have a tendency to make the tone of the writing informal. 

Some contractions are known to cause confusion because they sound very similar to certain pronouns.  These contractions must be studied so that students understand the convention rule that applies.  It says: 

Every contraction has an apostrophe to show where letters were removed.

A pronoun never has an apostrophe.

Have your students study these contractions that are often confused with pronouns:

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