Contractions of the unmaternity kind

As I diligently edit manuscripts, I’m struck by a trend with “my” first-time writers: not using contractions … and in fact, working very hard to avoid them.

Did I miss the memo?

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I recall hearing a rumor that good writing should not (note: shouldn’t) make use of contractions. Perhaps in a PhD thesis, or a technical manual, or a story (fiction or non) based in Elizabethan England. But when telling a story with a conversation between two street thugs hanging out in New York’s Central Park in 2013? “Hey, dude, you are looking good!” “You, too, bro; how are you doing? What is happening?” Ha.


Of course I do believe in following the rules of grammar and punctuation, spelling and capitalization – after all, that is what I get paid to check. But I also believe that writers need to use common sense – that writing is as much an art as it is a science, and therefore, not all rules need apply (if there is such a rule).

Unless, of course, you are Dr. Suess.  Green Eggs and Ham might not have worked too well if he had written: “I don’t like them, Sam I’m.”



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Filed under English language, grammar, literary terms, punctuation, reading, Uncategorized, writing

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