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 seems more normal? 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!

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  • 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.

Hoberman Sphere

  • 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 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 two contractions are 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.

stick figure man adding an apostrophe

Sometimes, it is nice to speak formally and take the time to appreciate the English language and all the wonderful words we have to express our thoughts. You can speak slowly and use all 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, if you haven't got the time or it just isn't the right place, you can relax your tone by fitting two words together with an apostrophe.

For Example

Maybe you have a brother or sister who always takes your things. 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 will tell, and you will be in trouble!

If you don't stop touching my things, I'll tell, and you'll 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 will, while the second sentence uses the contraction I'll.

Finally, the phrase you will in the first sentence is shortened to you'll in the second sentence.

You can learn to spell some common contractions!

There are four main groups of contractions.

  1. not
  2. am | is | are
  3. had
  4. 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!

Two Words Remove Letters Make Contraction
are not are + not = arenot aren't
do not do + not = donot don't
does not does + not = doesnot doesn't
could not could + not = couldnot couldn't
would not would + not = wouldnot wouldn't
should not should + not = shouldnot shouldn't
have not have + not = havenot haven't
had not had + not = hadnot hadn't
has not has + not = hasnot hasn't
is not is + not = isnot isn't
was not was + not = wasnot wasn't
were not were + not = werenot weren't
can not can + not = cannot can't
will not will + not = willnot = wn↔ot won't


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

Practice reading the two words, saying the conjunction, and 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-truth-fee.

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The am, are, and is contractions are also very easy to spell. All you need to do is replace one vowel with an apostrophe in each contraction.

Two Words Remove Letters Make Contraction
I am I + am = Iam I'm
you are you + are = youare you're
we are we + are = weare we're
they are they + are = theyare they're
he is he + is = heis he's
she is she + is = sheis she's
it is it + is = itis it's


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. I'm. 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!

kid writing

Time to move on to the funniest of all the contractions: the had contractions.

  • Why are they so funny?

Because you get a ha out of all of them!

Two Words Remove Letters Make Contraction
I had I + had = Ihad I'd
you had you + had youhad you'd
he had he + had = hehad he'd
she had she + had = shehad she'd
it had it + had = ithad it'd
we had we + had = wehad we'd
they had they + had = theyhad they'd


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

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

They have a sense of humor too! Just get the ha out of the have and had contractions.

Two Words Remove Letters Make Contraction
I have I + have = Ihave I've
you have you + have youhave you've
he has he + has = hehas he's
she has she + has = shehas she's
it has it + has = ithas it's
we have we + have = wehave we've
they have they + have = theyhave they've


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" and then say the contraction and spell the contraction.

Contraction Flashcards

Now, make flashcards to practice making contractions.

  1. You will need the following supplies.
  • 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 an apostrophe on a sticky note.
  3. Then, place the sticky note with the apostrophe on top of the letters replaced with the apostrophe when you spell the contraction.

Your cards will look like this.

Once you have all the contraction words written on the cards, you can turn it into a game with someone 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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