TBL: Contractions in English

written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, just three
days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin
#1 for 4 weeks in 1968


Words in English when spoken quickly or sung sometimes contain contractions.

“Rocking” becomes “rockin´” – For example – “Rockin´ all over the world”
This usually occurs when the word ends with “ing” and the word contracts to “ sittin` ” or  “wastin` “.

Common contractions in songs are also

I´m gonna –
I wanna –
I gotta –
I coulda –
I shoulda –

What do you think they mean?

Also – pronouns can collopse into the verb.
For example – I watch ’em roll away again ( I watch them )

Exercise 2: Use YouTube to listen to the song and identify as many contractions as possible.

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be _________ when the _______ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m ________ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just ________ on the dock of the bay
_________ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s __________ come my way

So I’m just _________ sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
_________ time

Look like nothing’s _______ change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just ________ sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, _________ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time


Exercise 3: Use the internet to identify 10 different examples of contractions, in songs, in BBC news reports, in films, on the radio etc. Write them down and try to understand their contexts and bring them into class for discussion.


Exercise 4:

Example: (I am) I’m happy.

1) (I will) …………….     see you at English class next week.

2) Is there milk in the refrigerator? Yes, (there is) …………….. milk in the refrigerator.

3) Shhh…(There will) …………… be time to talk later.

4) (It is) ………… raining outside.

5) (George is) ……………. going to the football game. (He will) ………… be there at 7:30.

6) (I am) …………. not at home right now.

7) (Who is) …………. Mary? (Mary is) ………….. my best friend.

8) (Donald is) …………. good at tennis.

9) (We will) ……………. be home at ten (of the clock) .

10) (What would) ……………. make you upset? (I would)…………… be upset if you stole my money.


How do we write contractions?

In order to form a contraction, the letter or letters that are removed from the word must be replaced by an apostrophe. For example, to turn the words he is into a contraction, we must remove the i and replace it with an apostrophe to form he’s.

are not = aren’t
cannot = can’t
could not =couldn’t
did not = didn’t
do not = don’t
does not = doesn’t
had not = hadn’t
have not = haven’t
he is  = he’s
he has = he’s
he will = he’ll
he would = he’d
he had = he’d
here is = here’s
I am = I’m
I have = I’ve
I will = I’ll
I would = I’d
I had = I’d

is not = isn’t
it is = it’s
it has = it’s
it will = it’ll
must not = mustn’t
she is = she’s
she has = she’s
she will = she’ll
she would = she’d
she had = she’d
should not = shouldn’t
that is = that’s
there is = there’s
they are = they’re
they have = they’ve
they will = they’ll
they would = they’d
they had = they’d
was not = wasn’t

we are = we’re
we have = we’ve
we will = we’ll
we would  = we’d
we had = we’d
were not = weren’t
what is = what’s
where is = where’s
who is = who’s
who will = who’ll
*will not = won’t (irregular)
would not = wouldn’t
you are = you’re
you have = you’ve
you will = you’ll
you would = you’d
you had = you’d

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