Contractions in College Essays
All students are used to thinking that they can write as they talk. Moreover, this is not a bad method, especially at early stages of their education. In addition, it gets easier for writers to deliver their ideas when they can use patterns from the spoken language. However, the situation changes when students have to switch to the academic language, which is much more formal and doesn’t allow students to use contractions. Fortunately, this rule has exceptions and College-Writers team knows it, so any student can benefit from knowing how to use contractions correctly.
First, talk to your instructor and figure out what are his or her preferences regarding the rules of writing. Of course, you should be prepared for the fact that many teachers follow the rules of pure formal English and don’t make any exceptions. Anyway, it’s better for you to know your teacher’s position on this issue in advance.
You must use contractions when paraphrasing someone else’s words or including a direct quote. Quotes allow readers to perceive the author’s unique style of writing. Thus, if you get rid of contractions, you won’t be able to deliver the author’s speech properly. In addition, the author’s manner of speech can add more meaning or underline certain emotions.
You can also use contractions if you are allowed to use the first person in the same essay. Usually, these are personal types of essays which imply using a narrative approach or descriptions. In personal essays, contractions allow you to reflect the actual way of speaking. They may also be useful in compare and contrast essays, as well as in example essays.
If you choose to use contractions, you should be consistent. For example, if you’ve used a contraction in a certain sentence and then choose the formal form (e.g. “we are,” “I will,” etc.), the sentence will look inconsistent.
Listen to the intonation of your text. For example, if a certain phrase expresses excitement, a contraction might look more natural. The same applies to sentences that express urgency.
A formal form can be used to emphasize something. It can be illustrated by parents calling their kids by their full names when they are angry. The phrase “I did not” is aimed to get more attention than “I didn’t.”