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May 18, 2007


Lisa Braithwaite

I've had articles edited by magazines to eradicate all of my contractions. I'm an informal speaker and writer, and when they change my writing like that, it literally changes my voice! I also had a friend, who's in a scientific/academic field, express discomfort with the contractions in my public speaking e-course that she proofread for me. I guess it's a matter of taste, but I'll take contractions any day over stilted, "constipated" writing!

Rich Rosa

Now why would anyone “want to communicate the idea that [they're] very, very constipated ...”?

Dan, today is the first time I've read your blog, but I'm sure it won't be the last time.

Marilynn Mobley

I have written speeches for corporate executives for 20 years now and I find that the best way to test how well a written document conveys a message simply and clearly is to read it out loud. If it doesn't "sound right," it's usually because the language is stilted.

Dan, you're absolutely right... contractions are our friends. We should spend more time with them.

Karen McGreevey


Count me with the others lovin' your take on "contractions".

Being of a certain "age" persuasion, I learned (it was more or less required) to be somewhat "stilted" when writing business stuff.

I'll take your way any day--unless I have to make adjustments because of someone's request, that is.

This is the first time I've landed here; you can be sure I'll be back. I like the way you "talk".

Britt Stromberg

Great post. I hadn't thought about explaining it this way to clients. Sometimes they just get so caught up in doing what they think will sound the most "official."

Good fodder for future contraction battles!


My favorite contraction is "I'm'na", which is short for "I am going to." I only ever write it out in informal IM conversations, though, and I admit I'm being a bit cheeky when I do.

Some people take it further and just say "I'm'a." They shorten that 13-character phrase to just five, if you count the apostrophes.

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Why "Word Wise"?

  • When I started to e-mail out a weekly writing tip to my Chicago colleagues at Edelman in 2002, little did I know how quickly how many people outside my office would start to request it. But word spread, as word is wont to do, and in 2006 the e-mail evolved into this blog. The tips, which are about grammar, usage and style, have a dual purpose – to remind my colleagues in PR of the power of the written word and, more generally, to support and perpetuate clear, concise, creative, honest, lively, stylish, compelling writing everywhere. In 2009 I started to add commentary about and links to stories and other blog posts related to the media, marketing, writing and, sometimes, just interesting stuff. For some reason, I also started Twittering (at SantowDan).