Contractions: It's Getting Crowded in Here!

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10579

"Do not miss this lesson! It is a good lesson, is it not?" "Don't miss this lesson! It's a good lesson, isn't it?" Which is more "normal"? Using charts and online games, learn how to use contractions!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Have you ever seen a Hoberman Sphere? You can stretch it out into a great big ball, or fold or contract it into a small ball:

Can you do the same with words?

Think about that big sphere when it is expanded.

It's huge and clunky and can be hard to fit in certain spaces and carry from place to place. Now, think about the sphere when it is contracted. To contract means to shrink or reduce in size. When the sphere is in its smallest form, it is much easier to carry and to find a space where it fits.

Think about sentences.

  • Don't you wish that sometimes you could shorten your words so your sentences aren't such a mouthful?

Well, as a matter of fact, you can. When you combine two words using an apostrophe, it's called a contraction. Just like the big sphere above, you can push words together into smaller words. Contractions make your speaking and writing more concise(short and to the point).

  • Would you be surprised if you knew there are two contractions sitting in one of the sentences right above this one?

Reread the sentence: Don't you wish that sometimes you could shorten your words so your sentences aren't such a mouthful?

  • What words in that sentence look different from the other words?

"Don't" is one of the contractions. The word "don't" is made by combining the words "do" and "not" with an apostrophe (').

Do you see another? "Aren't" is also a contraction. Can you see the two separate words in "aren't"? That's right, the words "are" and "not" are joined together by an apostrophe to make the word "aren't."

Sometimes, it is nice to speak formally and take the time to appreciate the English language and all of the wonderful words we have to express our thoughts. You can speak slowly and use all of the words in their full form because you would not, could not, dare to shorten any single one.

There are other times, however, when the situation may not call for such a formal manner of speaking. So, in the event you haven't got the time, or it just isn't the right place, you can relax your tone by taking two words and fitting them together with an apostrophe.

For example Maybe you have a brother or sister who is always taking your things. Read or ask your teacher or parent to help you read the next two statements and decide which of the two sounds more like normal, natural conversation:

  • "If you do not stop touching my things, I am going to tell and you are going to be in trouble!"
  • "If you don't stop touching my things, I'm going to tell and you're going to be in trouble!"

Chances are you picked the second sentence. Now, take another look at the two sentences. Can you spot the differences?

The first sentence uses the two words "do not," while the second sentence uses the contraction "don't."

The first sentence also uses "I am," while the second sentence uses the contraction "I'm." Finally,
the phrase "you are" in the first sentence is shortened to "you're" in the second sentence.

You can learn to spell some common contractions!

There are four main groups of contractions:

  • not
  • am | is | are
  • had
  • have | has

With only two exceptions, the "not" contractions are pretty easy to master. For the majority of these contractions, remove the "o" in "not" and replace with an apostrophe!

To spell the word "can't," you need to remember to get rid of that extra "n." Most tricky of all, however, is will not, which you need to flip around a bit.

Practice reading the two words, saying the conjunction, then spelling the conjunction. For example, say "is not." Isn't. I-S-N-T.

In case you're having a difficult time saying that little piece of punctuation that joins the two words, it is pronounced uh-pos-truh-fee.

The "am," "are," and "is" contractions are also very easy to spell. If you notice, all you need to do is replace one vowel for an apostrophe in each contraction:

Practice with the am, are, and is contractions. Again, say the two words, say the contraction, then spell the contraction. For example, say "I am." Say "I'm." Spell "I-M."

You're doing a great job with contractions! Just a few more to learn, and soon you'll be able to start using them in your writing!

Time to move on to the funniest of all of the contractions: the "had" contractions. Why are they so funny, you might ask? Because you get a "Ha" out of all of them!

Just take out the "ha" in "had" and replace with an apostrophe!

Finally, the last set of contractions: "have" and "has":

Good thing "had" isn't the only contraction group with a sense of humor; it can get lonely when you're the only one who gets the punch line! Just get the "have" and "had" contractions laughing, too, and you'll be all set!

Now, practice spelling your three "H" contraction sets, just like you did with the other two. Say the two words that make up the contractions, such as "I have" or "You had" — say the contraction, then spell the contraction.

Contraction flashcards

Now, you will make your own flashcards so you can practice making contractions.

  1. You will need:
  • 35 - 3" x 5" index cards (you may color code them if you like).
  • at least 35 - 1.5" x 2" sticky notes.
  • colored pencils.
  1. On one side of the index card, write the two words that make the contraction.
  2. On the other side, write the two words together, and write an apostrophe on a sticky note.
  3. Then, place the sticky note with the apostrophe on top of the letters that are replaced with the apostrophe when you spell the contraction.

Your cards will look like this:

Once you have all of the contraction words written on the cards, you can even turn it into a game with your teacher or parent to see who can make the most contractions. Or, after drawing a card and making the contractions correctly, use your contractions in a sentence!

Move on to the Got It? section to play some learning games and work on a worksheet!

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