Never let it be said I am not a woman of my word!
Many people avoid using contractions in formal writing because they are under the impression that contractions are only appropriate for casual writing and that they constitute non-standard grammar.
Are they really representative of sloppy writing? When is it okay to use contractions? Many automatic grammar-checking software packages will produce an error if you use a contraction within your written document and will instruct you to correct it.
But does the use of a contraction really constitute a mistake? In most cases, no. Sometimes you may want to structure a formal communication, informally. For example, if you are writing a formal letter to a customer, you may want the customer to feel that you are talking directly to them.
Contractions make the writing much more personal and friendly. When writing dialogue, it is generally more authentic if you use contractions. People use contractions all the time in their everyday speech and it is important that you replicate that in your writing.
So, for example, if you are reproducing a customer testimonial, it is often useful to use contractions.
What do the Style Guides Say? The Gregg Reference Manual: Avoid excessive use of contractions. One of the best methods of achieving this is through the use of contractions. People are accustomed to hearing contractions in spoken English, and using them in your writing can help them relate to your message.
When it is not Okay to use Contractions Do not use contractions in documents that serve very formal purposes, such as legal contracts, submissions to professional publications.
Try to minimize the use of contractions in documents that will be read by people who speak English as a foreign language because they can confuse non-native speakers. Need help to refine your English?
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