Contractions are handy little words that are made when two commonly used words are smashed together — kind of like two train cars colliding and losing a little bit of freight. In the place of the missing letters, you need to put an apostrophe. The apostrophe shows the reader that you've held a space open for the letters just in case they want to come back.

There are a lot of contractions in the English language. Because there are so many, only ten common ones are listed. Do you know of any others? If so, take a moment to either add them to this list or add them to your notebook or spelling chart.

they're they are
can't can not
shouldn't should not
I'll I will
you're you are
it's it has/it is
haven't have not
we'll we will
we're we are
won't will not*

* this is an irregular contraction

Did you notice which letters were missing in each contraction? What letter is most frequently dropped?

Most contractions end with the words will, are, and not. Some examples are we'll (we will), they're (they are), and shouldn't (should not).

Mistakes to A-v-o-i-d

What's the Meaning?

Should not means “it's not a good idea,” such as, “My mom said I shouldn't stay up past my bedtime.” Can not means a person is not able to do something, as in, “I can't do a cartwheel.” See if you can figure out which would be the correct words — or contraction — for this sentence: Joey — — cross the street without permission. Now it's your turn. Try making up sentences using can't and shouldn't.

Now that you have a list of some common contractions, see if you can put them into a sentence or two. Which contractions might complete these sentences?

— — almost ready to go to the park. — — a nice day for hiking.

You — — feed my dog pizza! — — get sick if you do.

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