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  1. #1
    sbrodsky is offline Junior Member
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    More about contractions

    Dear teacher:
    This is a quote from a book on a trip to South Africa:
    "It's now been two weeks since I've returned from my trip to South Africa".

    Don't you think that a book like this can bee considered as formal writing?

    If you wrote it, would you use contractions?
    Would "I have returned" (instead of "I've returned") look archaic for you?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: More about contractions

    Quote Originally Posted by sbrodsky View Post
    Dear teacher:
    This is a quote from a book on a trip to South Africa:
    "It's now been two weeks since I've returned from my trip to South Africa".

    Don't you think that a book like this can bee considered as formal writing?

    If you wrote it, would you use contractions?
    Would "I have returned" (instead of "I've returned") look archaic for you?

    Thank you
    I believe I said this in a previous reply - there is no clear line between formal and informal writing (other than the fact that most people would say that a business letter would be "formal").

    In published books, fiction or non-fiction, each author has their own individual writing style and there are no rules!

    I have absolutely no problem with the use of contractions in books of any kind. The only problem I have with the quoted sentence is the use of "I've" - not because it's a contraction but because it should read:

    "It's now been two weeks since I returned from..." - "I", not "I've".

    I have returned doesn't look archaic at all, it's just not necessary.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: More about contractions

    While in the past publication almost always conferred a degree of formality, this is no longer the case and contractions appear in travel books, cookery books, etc, which would have been uncommon or unheard of in the past.

  4. #4
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: More about contractions

    Quote Originally Posted by sbrodsky View Post
    Dear teacher:
    This is a quote from a book on a trip to South Africa:
    "It's now been two weeks since I've returned from my trip to South Africa".

    Don't you think that a book like this can bee considered as formal writing?
    If you wrote it, would you use contractions?
    Would "I have returned" (instead of "I've returned") look archaic for you?

    Thank you

    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********


    Hello, Sbrodsky.

    (1) I respectfully suggest that you do not use the contractions.

    (2) It is always in good taste to use the full forms in writing.

    (3) Besides, you have nothing to lose:

    (a) If you use contractions, you may upset some people who

    do not like contractions and feel that they are too informal or

    even rude.

    (b) If you use the full forms, probably no one would ever be

    upset.

    (4) Change is not always desirable. I was just reading that many

    young people in China are forgetting how to write their Chinese

    characters because so many of them are using mobile devices to

    communicate.

    (5) I hope that you will write out the full forms. Every language is

    so beautiful and precious. Let's [an exception to the no contraction

    rule!!!] show our respect by writing out the words.

    Thank you

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Re: More about contractions

    Parser, I have so much respect for your posts, but I can't agree with you on this one. I see no disrespect for a language when you use contractions that increase the naturalness of your writing. (Make it match the setting, yes, I completely agree!)

    I fully appreciate that you have been speaking and writing in this language longer than I have, but I've been making my living by putting words down on paper (or more often, up in pixels these days) for 20 years, and the accessibility and naturalness of my writing would be hampered if I felt as you do and refused to use them.

    I don't find using contractions rude at all, and would feel quite upset if you felt there was rudeness in a post that included "can't" or "don't" or "I've."

    Now, the part of your post I agree with completely is in telling sbrodsky not to use them. It seems clear to me that sbrodsky feels that using contractions is a sign of poor or sloppy writing, and using them is certainly not compulsory. No one should use them if they don't want to.

    I hope you find no disrespect in my post. I always enjoy reading yours!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: More about contractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Parser, I have so much respect for your posts, but I can't agree with you on this one. I see no disrespect for a language when you use contractions that increase the naturalness of your writing. (Make it match the setting, yes, I completely agree!)

    I fully appreciate that you have been speaking and writing in this language longer than I have, but I've been making my living by putting words down on paper (or more often, up in pixels these days) for 20 years, and the accessibility and naturalness of my writing would be hampered if I felt as you do and refused to use them.

    I don't find using contractions rude at all, and would feel quite upset if you felt there was rudeness in a post that included "can't" or "don't" or "I've."

    Now, the part of your post I agree with completely is in telling sbrodsky not to use them. It seems clear to me that sbrodsky feels that using contractions is a sign of poor or sloppy writing, and using them is certainly not compulsory. No one should use them if they don't want to.

    I hope you find no disrespect in my post. I always enjoy reading yours!
    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********

    Hello, Ms. Barbara.

    (1) Thank you so much for your kind note.

    (2) No, I do not find your posts rude. I, like many other visitors

    to usingenglish.com, always learn a lot from your posts.

    (3) That said, I suppose it is just a generational thing with me.

    (a) I am a mature person who still clings on to things that are

    fast fading.

    (i) Just as I feel both males and females should dress modestly

    in public, so do I feel that contractions should be kept for

    conversation and informal writing. You make your living by writing,

    so you -- of course -- know exactly what you are doing. On the

    other hand, I can hardly write a sentence. But when I do try to do

    so, I believe in avoiding contractions. To a few (some?) people,

    contractions might give an impression of hurrying to finish an

    unpleasant task. Besides comic strips and dialogue of "real"

    people speaking, I simply believe that contractions should be avoided.

    That is only the opinion of an old man whose old-fashioned

    ideas will soon be a thing of the past. I hear that there is some

    newfangled thing called "texting." People often almost bump into me

    on the sidewalk while they are "texting" and not paying attention to

    good sidewalk manners. I'm guessing that contractions are indispensable

    for them.

    (4) Most people who come to this website are young learners who

    have their whole future ahead of them. They are receiving very

    wise advice from you and the other language professionals who

    advise them. They should definitely follow your lead on all

    matters, including contractions.

    Thank you

    P. S. I am so old-fashioned that I address people as sir and ma'am!

    I just discovered to my horror that I wrote "I'm" instead of "I am."

    I shall not edit it out.
    Last edited by TheParser; 23-Jul-2010 at 12:20.

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