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  1. #1
    Hyneman is offline Newbie
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    Default Short Forms (we are / we're)

    Good day to everyone


    I'd like to ask a question about the English short forms of pronouns and verbs.
    I'm writing a short book about a technical topic, but use informal English (it's more like a tutorial).

    Mostly I use short forms such as I'm / We're as I'd like to get closer to the reader,
    but sometimes I think the long form looks or sounds better in specific cases.
    What's the general opinion on this?

    My main concern is about consistency as I once learned that after deciding for one form,
    it should be used consistently without switching between different forms.


    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Short Forms (we are / we're)

    Hi and welcome to the forum

    IMO, even if it is a tutorial and irrespective of how close you want to get to the reader, you should stick to full forms. There are other ways of getting closer to the reader (include pictures, or user-friendly explanations in non-technical terms if needed). Using contracted forms would give me (a non-technician reading the tutorial) a sense of unreliability.

    But then again, maybe it's just me. Native speakers or teachers amy have a different (and better-based) opinion.

    charliedeut

    PS: Imagine writing the same in German. My guess is you would write "Ich habe es schon erklärt", not "Ich hab's schon erklärt".
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  3. #3
    Hyneman is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Short Forms (we are / we're)

    Thank you for your answer.

    True, I didn't think about the German equivalent (and definitely wouldn't do that if I wrote a German text).
    However, I have the feeling that using the long form everywhere makes the text a little cumbersome to read,
    but you have a pretty big point there about reliability.

  4. #4
    Hyneman is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Short Forms (we are / we're)

    Hey

    I never really noticed that while I was reading similar literature, so yesterday
    I took a few books and scanned them for short forms...and actually:

    quite a few of them do use short form, and those are very professional and high level
    programming books. So I think it's OK...

    I'm still not so sure but I will have to make a decision.


    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Short Forms (we are / we're)

    I wouldn't do it, but haven't got anything against it.

  6. #6
    Stephanie S is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Short Forms (we are / we're)

    I'm a native English speaker, and also a writer who has faced this dilemma. In theory, it seems more professional to use the long forms, but you are right that it can become cumbersome. I think it is generally acceptable at this point in history to use short forms, even in a tutorial. It's not exactly the same as in German, where short forms can sound extremely and even distastefully familiar; this is both a linguistic and a cultural issue. Compare instead to French, where in some cases apostrophised forms have actually become correct and long forms incorrect. English is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

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