Contractions with the verb BE

The simple present of the verb BE can be contracted in two ways: with a subject pronoun or with the negative adverb not. Before you continue, review these lessons: Contractions | Verb BE .

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To make a contraction with a subject pronoun and the verb BE, join the two words and replace the first letter of the conjugated verb BE with an apostrophe.

uncontracted   words
joined
  first letter
eliminated
  contracted
I am Iam Iam I’m
You are Youare Youare You’re
She is Sheis Sheis She’s

For example:

uncontracted   contracted
I am happy. I’m happy.
You are funny. You’re funny.
She is beautiful. She’s beautiful.
We are hungry. We’re hungry.
They are young. They’re young.

The simple present of the verb BE is frequently contracted with the negative adverbe not. A conjugated form of the verb BE is joined to not and the o in not is replaced with an apostrophe.

uncontracted   words
joined
  letter o
eliminated
  contracted
is not isnot isnot isn’t
are not arenot arenot aren’t

Example sentences:

uncontracted   contracted
The dog is not friendly. The dog isn’t friendly.
They are not home. They aren’t home.

It is not possible to contract the simple present of the first person singular form of BE (am) and the negative adverb not.

uncontracted   contracted
I am not happy. I amn’t happy.

Note that the verb BE can be contracted with a subject or the negative adverb not. There is no difference in meaning between these phrases.

uncontracted   with subject with “not”
I am not happy. I’m not happy.
You are not late. You’re not late. You aren’t late.
She is not rich. She’s not rich. She isn’t rich.
We are not hungry. We’re not hungry. We aren’t hungry.
They are not young. They’re not young. They aren’t young.

The simple past of the verb BE (was | were) cannot be contracted with a subject.

uncontracted   contracted
I was not there. xxx
You were not home. xxx
She was not sad. xxx
They were not eating. xxx

However, the simple past of BE can contract with the negative adverb not.

uncontracted   contracted
I was not there. I wasn’t there.
You were not home. You weren’t home.
She was not sad. She wasn’t sad.
They were not eating. They weren’t eating.

In spoken English, contractions are made with any noun followed by the third person form of BE (is). This is informal speech.

uncontracted   contracted
Their dog is big. Their dog’s big.
The building is old. The building’s old.
My idea is better. My idea’s better.

Contractions with BE are not possible with a subject when BE is the final word of a sentence (occurring in response to a question).

question   response   incorrect
Who is going? I am. I’m.
Is it noon? Yes, it is Yes, it’s.
Are they here? Yes, they are. Yes, they’re.
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