Can you Use Contractions in Essays: College or Formal writing

Contractions in Essays

Most students tend to confuse that it is acceptable to write the way they talk. That is so because these students utilize the patterns from the spoken language to write down their points. Unfortunately, the situation may change as you switch to academic writing.

Before you write an essay, it is wise to consult your professor regarding the writing rules. Some will allow the use of pure formal English without making any exceptions. Knowing the teacher’s position on this matter will make your work easier. 

What Are Contractions?

A contraction happens to be a short form of a given word. It usually combines two words. Some people prefer to avoid a contraction in their formal writing because they will weaken their sentence structures or make the sentence appear too casual. 

exampled of Contractions

However, contractions are helpful when you are handling professional writing. Furthermore, some people use them to add style and the entire format of the text. Generally, many have been using contractions when giving a speech. 

In many cases, when you are using contractions, use a noun and a verb with an apostrophe as a link. For example, here is the list of such words:

  • Do not = don’t
  • Would have = would’ve 
  • Cannot = Can’t
  • Is not = isn’t
  • I am = I’m 
  • They are = they’re 

Furthermore, you can still have a three words contraction as indicated below:

  • Should not have = shouldn’t’ve 
  • Might not have = mightyn’t’ve 

So, why use contractions? We use them in plain English since it is the way you can express yourself as you talk. When you write using contractions, the document will flow better and make the reading easier. 

Contractions will make the writing seem natural. Also, research says that the use of contractions enhances readability. If your writing sounds too strange without contradiction, then you should use them. 

Can you use Contractions in Essay Writing

Ideally, contractions in essay writing may not be welcome but are used by students if their instructor accepts them. Use the contraction as you paraphrase one’s work or when you are using a direct quote.

The quotes are necessary to enable readers to know the unique writing style of the author. When you eliminate contraction, it will be hard to deliver the author’s speech well.

Ideally, you cannot use contractions in writing essays, whether in college or formal writing because they are informal elements. It is highly encouraged not to use them. However, you can insert contractions in college essays if you are representing a direct quote from another writer or a source.

Again, you can use the contractions when using the first person in the same essay. You will encounter personal essays which use descriptions or a narrative approach. When you are writing personal essays, you can use contractions to indicate the real way of speaking. 

Ensure you are consistent as you use contractions. For example, the sentences will be inconsistent if you use a standard form like “I will “and then use a contraction. 

How to use Contractions in College Essays

At the early ages of students, their teachers taught them to write as like they talk. As such, it implies that authors rely on contractions to promote verbal shorthand, which is evident in people’s speech patterns. 

using essay Contractions well

When it comes to college essays, the colleges pose an exciting challenge.

We all know that academic writing is formal; hence using contractions has its limits, or other colleges prohibit them. 

The best way is to learn how to use contractions and polish your skills to bolster confidence. 

Before you begin to write your college essay, confirm with your instructor concerning the writing rules. 

As earlier captured, some instructors will adhere to the dictates of formal English without making any exceptions no matter the nature of the assignment. As such, you will have to keep the rule for you to secure good grades.

A contraction is informal writing which one should avoid using in scholarly writing unless except for given circumstances. Such situations could be:

1. When Quoting

You can use contractions when you are quoting someone directly. Alternatively, you can use them as you paraphrase their words in the essays.

Direct Quoting

You involve quotes when you are capturing the manner of speech or the writer. 

You should consider what is going to get lost if you eliminate contractions.

You must not lose the meaning when you are removing the contractions.

For example, you can quote a direct speech as follows, “We don’t wanna do such tasks.” 

2. When Using First Person 

It is in the right direction to use contractions as you use the first person. It comes true when you are writing personal and revealing essays.

Those are narrative and descriptive essays which might also include comparison and contrast. When you are using contractions in personal essays, you are reflecting on how one speaks.

It is a way of expressing an individual voice. That is why it is not right to use such words. Therefore, consider replacing first-person language in academic writing unless when you are writing a personal narrative or an individualized story.

3. Footnotes 

One can use contractions when writing footnotes in the formal piece of writing. It is a way of making your writing have a stylish format. 

Read our comprehensive guide on how to write essays and learn more about the tenets of essay writing that make it inappropriate to use contractions.

Effects of Contractions in Essay Writing

1. Pace and Voice 

Authors use contraction to deepen the character and the voice. You can use a contraction form to enable the readers to know the regional accents. Furthermore, it promotes the personality traits and the person’s social status when you are passing your message in the essay.  

2. Narration Style 

Contractions are key aspects of allowing the author to narrate a story. It will enable the writer to speak to the audience directly. It makes the reader feel a sense of belonging by knowing that the writer was addressing them.

When to Avoid Contractions 

The writer should refrain from using contractions when writing professional reports, formal essays, and other scholarly writing.

Although you can find contractions in many writing pieces in life, you should never use them if you want to restore a professional tone.       

FAQs on Contractions

Are Contractions Bad in Essays?

Contractions are okay when you are doing formal writing. They become essential when you are communicating a message in effortless style and tone. It makes the audience think that you are talking to them directly.  As such, the contraction makes the essay appear personal and friendly. 

Also, it could be authentic to use the contraction when you are writing dialogue. It is good to replicate the style of talking when you are quoting people from their speech. For instance, if you are giving a client testimonial, it is vital to use contractions. 

Should You Use Contractions in a Personal Essay?

It is much acceptable to use contractions in personal essays. You need to use contraction since you will be describing a key lesson that you extracted from your life experience. Such a report will be representing a key event from the first-person angle. 

When you use contraction in the personal essay, it compliments a conversational tone to express the writer’s talking style. The personal essay could be any memorable moment that changed you to have a different opinion.

What should you not Use in a College Essay?

We have a set of contractions that one should avoid in life. They include words like ain’t, should’ve, could’ve, etc. Instead, you can use a two-word version since it makes your writing appear awkward. 

When you are writing a college essay, avoid passive voice. Again, you should not use abbreviations. You should only use concrete and literal language. Avoid repetition as it makes the essay dull. 

Contractions are part of your writing process when you are working on your college essay.  As a rule of thumb, you should only use them once your lecturer gives you a nod. You should never apply them if the lecturer dislikes them lest you face cancellation of the paper. 

Josh Jasen
Josh Jasen
When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.