Can You Use Contractions in Essays or Research Papers

Use Contractions in Essays or Research Papers

Use Contractions in Essays or Research Papers

Writing essays or research papers requires students to adhere to particular academic conventions or rules. 

The academic conventions that must be followed ensure that the essays or research papers meet the expectations of formal writing acceptable within academic contexts.

Some of the formalities expected to be observed in academic writing include the use of contractions. 

Understanding the Formality of Essays

Establishing the Academic Context of Essay Writing 

When you are given an assignment requiring you to write an essay concerning a topic in your academic discipline, you should understand the context and who the target audience is.

essay writing

A formal essay meant for academic contexts should have a professional and formal tone that is free from slang, contractions, colloquial expressions, and other language patterns that make it sound like a normal conversation. 

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Discussing the Expectations of Formal Writing in Academic Settings 

Formal writing within academic settings should follow particular standards and conventions. Some of the expectations include:

1. Clarity and Precision

When you have been given an assignment to write an academic essay, you are expected to use clear and concise language in addition to avoiding any form of ambiguity.

Your arguments and ideas should be presented in an organized and logical manner while using appropriate terminology and precise language.

2. Formal Tone

The tone used in academic writing should be formal, impersonal, and objective. This means that it should be free from emotions and personal opinions.

You should always avoid the use of informal languages such as contractions, slang, and colloquial expressions when writing formal academic essays. 

3. Proper Punctuation and Grammar

You should also demonstrate a strong command of punctuation and grammar rules when writing academic essays. 

Your sentences should be well structured and the punctuations used should enhance readability and clarity.

4. Impartiality and Objectivity

All the arguments you present in academic essays should be objective and impartial. Any conflicts of interest or potential biases should be disclosed. 

Exploring the Importance of Maintaining a Professional Tone in Essays

Maintaining a professional tone in essays is important because of various reasons:

Conveys Credibility

The use of a professional tone enhances the authority and credibility of your essay. It demonstrates that you took the topic seriously and conducted comprehensive research.

It also shows that you have explored the subject manner in an informed and mature way. This establishes trust among your readers.

Fosters Objectivity

The use of professional tones helps your writing sound objective. The avoidance of emotion, personal biases, and informal language presents arguments in an impartial and balanced manner.

Enhances Readability and Clarity

Professional writing is concise, clear, and organized. This is because it adheres to the conventions of punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure.

All these factors make the usage of a professional tone in essays align with the academic expectations of most institutions and instructors. 

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What are Contractions and Their Role in Writing?

Defining Contractions 

common contractions

Contractions refer to the utilization of a shortened form of two words that are put together by omitting some letters and replacing them with an apostrophe. 

Examples of contractions include: 

  • “I’m” (I am)
  • “you’re” (you are)
  • “he’s” (he is) / “she’s” (she is) / “it’s” (it is)
  • “we’re” (we are) / “they’re” (they are)
  • “can’t” (cannot)
  • “won’t” (will not)
  • “shouldn’t” (should not) 

In most cases, the use of contractions makes essays sound informal hence the reason why students should be careful when using them in academic writing. 

Highlighting the Purpose and Function of Contractions in Language 

Informality and Familiarity

The purpose and function of contractions in language is to enhance familiarity and informality. 

They are particularly associated with informal speeches, where they result in a casual, conversational tone. It makes the language feel familiar and approachable. 

Naturalness and Native-Like Speech

Native language speakers frequently utilize contractions because they are used to communicating in such language.

The use of contractions in writing mimics the pattern of such natives hence enhancing communication. 

Conveying Emotion and Tone

Contractions convey particular emotions or tones to emphasize things. They add emotional depth and nuances to your language. 

For example, “can’t” portrays the determination of refusal more than “cannot”. 

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Discussing the Informal Nature of Contractions and Their Impact on Writing Style

Contractions make an academic essay sound informal. As you may remember, we have noted that formal writing should be clear and precise, avoid informal language and tone, and demonstrate impartiality and objectivity.

Contractions enhance emotions hence the reason why their use makes the essay sound subjective. 

It makes the writing to be unclear hence the reason why it should be avoided in academic writing. 

Pros and Cons of Using Contractions in Essay Writing

Advantages of Using Contractions in Essays

1. Creating a Conversational Tone and Engaging the Reader

The use of contractions in essays makes it have a conversational tone because it enhances familiarity with the language. 

This engages the readers more hence the reason why contractions are used in informal speeches. 

2. Conveying a Sense of Familiarity and Approachability

The use of contractions in writing mimics the pattern of native language speakers because they use them in their daily lives.

This creates a sense of familiarity and approachability because people are used to such language. 

3. Enhancing the Flow and Rhythm of the Writing

Contractions allow for variations in intonation patterns and stress, making the written language sound expressive and melodic when read. 

They help create emphasis on particular ideas or words by contrasting un-contracted with contracted forms. 

Disadvantages of Using Contractions in Essays

1. Potentially Undermining the Formal Tone of the Essay

As aforementioned, it is important to avoid contractions in academic essays because they undermine the formal tone required in academic writing. 

They undermine the objectivity, readability, and clarity of an essay. 

2. Contractions may be Seen as Less Sophisticated or Less Professional

The use of contractions makes an essay seem less sophisticated and less professional because their use makes the writing seem familiar and casual.

Formal or professional writing should be objective; meaning that it should not be casual or sound familiar. It’s unfortunate that one of the techniques students use to shorten their essay is using contractions. However, this may make their work look informal.

3. Possible Distraction from the Content of the Research Paper

Contractions can distract the readers from the content of the research paper because when objective serious issues are being discussed, you are not supposed to use informal language to explain them. 

Context and Considerations before using Contractions

Examining the Role of Subject Matter in Determining the Use of Contractions 

writing contractions

The subject matter is very important when deciding on the usage of contractions. If the subject matter is academic and it targets other academics in your discipline, it is important to avoid contractions. 

Exploring the Impact of Different Fields of Study on the Use of Contractions 

Different fields of study require the usage of particular writing conventions. Scientific fields tend to avoid the use of contractions because they are informal and subjective.

On the other hand, some fields that deal with language and communication can use contractions because they enhance communication and learning experience. 

Discussing Specific Contexts Where Contractions May be more Acceptable

You may use contractions in informal conversations and informal writing such as text messages, personal emails, personal blogs, social media posts, and informal letters. 

They are also used in dialogue in creative and fiction writing, informal academic writing, and finally in presentations and speeches. 

Tips on How to Use Contractions Effectively

1. Maintain a Balance between Formality and Informality

If allowed within the academic context, you may use contractions in such a way that there is a balance between formality and informality. 

Do not overuse contractions in formal writing because it will make your work lose objectivity. 

2. Use Contractions Sparingly and Purposeful

Only use contractions when there is a need; and even though there is a need, use them sparingly. You may use them in reported speech or when quoting from other sources. 

3. Understand the Context and Tone of the Essay First

You should also understand the context and tone of the essay before deciding on using contractions. If the essay requires formality and objectivity, avoid contractions.

If the essay uses a casual approach like the use of the first person, you may use contractions sparingly to set a tone of familiarity and emotional appeal. 

Alternatives to using Contractions

These are other techniques to create a conversational tone without using contractions

Use of Alternative Sentence Structures and Wording Choices

You can create a conversational tone without the use of contractions by using alternative wording choices and sentence structures

You can make a sentence sound conversational without the use of contractions by use of stress and intonation. 

Maintaining a Strong Writing Style Regardless of the Use of Contractions

It is also important to maintain a strong writing style that easily communicates to your readers your intentions or meaning.

Effective use of language, grammar, and vocabulary makes communication easy and conversational without the use of contractions.  

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In formal writing such as academic essays and research papers, it is important to avoid the use of contractions because they undermine the objectivity, readability, and clarity of an essay. 

You should first consider the purpose, audience, and overall tone of the essay when deciding on whether to use contractions. 

A formal essay meant for academic contexts should have a professional and formal tone that is free from slang, contractions, colloquial expressions, and other language patterns that go against the required academic standards.