A contraction, in the context being discussed, refers to the use of an apostrophe in place of other characters. For example, it’s instead of it is, can’t instead of cannot, isn’t instead of is not.
Thus the characters replaced by the apostrophe in the previous examples are ‘i’ ‘no’ and ‘o’. In contractions the characters are replaced for ease of pronunciation, in informal spoken and written English.
The central point of this article however is this: You should never or at least very rarely use contractions in academic essay writing.
Due to the informal nature of contractions they should only ever be used very sparingly in formal written English. Their use is largely inappropriate for academic essays which by their very nature demand a formal and precise form of English.
(Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 12 December 2005 columns 23-34 – Fictitious Hansard citation)
Informal contractions such as ‘I’m’ are commonly found in speech and informal writing. Here its use is appropriate as it is a direct quote from a relevant external source.
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S J Tonge