On Contractions (Part One)

The Verb BE seems simple – it’s usually more or less the first thing we teach, to students of every age. But when it comes to the contracted forms, it’s actually very complex. Have a look at these conversations. Decide where it is and isn’t possible to use a contracted form (the answers are given below, so if you're not a native speaker you can check). But why? What are the rules? Use the examples to try and work them out for yourself before you look at the discussion in tomorrow's post.

The examples :



  • A : Who is that woman? B : I am not sure, but I think it is the new Marketing Manager.

  • A : Come on! We are late. B : No, we are not. It is only 2.30. The meeting is not until 3.15.

  • A : Is Jane here? There are some messages for her. B : Yes, she is. She is in the office.

  • A : Where are the keys? They are not in my bag. B : The car keys are in the kitchen and the house keys are on the table near the door.

  • A : Come on! The bus is here!

  • A : Hello Chris. How are you? B : I am fine thanks. A : And how are your parents? B : My mother is fine, but my father is not very well.

  • A : What are those flowers? Are they geraniums? B : Yes, they are.

  • A : Do you know where John is? B : No? Where is he? A : He is in Pat’s office. What is he doing there?

The answers (contracted forms are used whenever it is possible) :



  1. A : Who’s that woman? B : I’m not sure, but I think it’s the new Marketing Manager.

  2. A : Come on! We’re late. B : No, we’re not (or : we aren’t). It’s only 2.30. The meeting’s not (or: the meeting isn’t) until 3.15.

  3. A : Is Jane here? There are some messages for her. B : Yes, she is. She’s in the office.

  4. A : Where are the keys? They’re not (or : They aren’t) in my bag. B : The car keys are in the kitchen and the house keys are on the table near the door.

  5. A : Come on! The bus is here!

  6. A : Hello Chris. How are you? B : I’m fine thanks. A : And how are your parents? B : My mother’s fine, but my father’s not (or : my father isn’t) very well.

  7. A : What are those flowers? Are they geraniums? B : Yes, they are.

  8. A Do you know where John is ? B : No? Where is he? A : He's in Pat's office. What's he doing there?



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