Contractions really aren’t painful

One of the biggest misconceptions about writing involves those handy word combinations we call contractions. You’re familiar: cannot becomes can’t, will not shortens to won’t, and so forth.

When professional writers insert those contractions into their work, clients are often confused. Some doubt the competence of the writer they’ve hired or assume that the writer must have been poorly educated. Why? Because their teachers told them that using contractions when writing was a big no-no.

Breathe easy and know that contractions are just fine. In fact, you should use them freely in writing that’s being created to inform, persuade, convince, enlighten, and even sell. Why? All that copy is at its most effective when it’s conversational. The more the copy sounds like people talking, the more compelling and convincing it will be. It’s easier on the brain, because it’s what we’re accustomed to hearing.

Were the teachers wrong? Not at all. They were teaching the highly formal style of writing used in — and only in — the academic world. If you’re writing a term paper on symbolism in a George Orwell book for your British Lit class, you’ll want to skip contractions. But outside of the classroom, don’t be afraid to use them.

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