Business Writing


In formal business writing we don’t often use contractions but, as you can see, we do use them in blogs. We also use them quite freely in emails.

There are two kinds of contraction.

Noun/pronoun/etc. + (auxiliary) verb

  • I’m ready
  • Do you know when you’ll get here?
  • I’ve no idea what he’s talking about.
  • Where’s the 3rd floor conference room?
  • Somebody’s coming to represent the marketing department.

(Auxiliary) verb + not

  • The reports aren’t ready.
  • He won’t be late for the meeting, will he?
  • I haven’t had a chance to finish the report yet.
  • Can’t you do it at lunchtime?

Now what about the rules?

Short form ’s (for ‘is’ or ‘has’)

Can be used after:

  • Nouns
  • Questions words
  • ‘Here’ and ‘now’
  • Pronouns
  • Unstressed ‘there’

Short forms ’ll, ’d and ’re

Commonly used after:

  • Pronouns
  • Unstressed ‘there’

But short forms are rarely used in writing after nouns and questions words, although we often contract the words when we pronounce them.

  • Your boss will be pleased. (not boss’ll)
  • He was wondering what had happened to make you late for the meeting. (not what’d)

What about when there’s more than one subject?

We usually avoid contractions when we have two subjects.

  • The boss and I will be coming to the meeting this afternoon. (not The boss and I’ll)

Where does the apostrophe go?

We put the apostrophe in the same place as we would have put the letters we left out.

  • Has not becomes hasn’t.

Notice though that there’s only one apostrophe in each of the following words, although more letters are missing.

  • Shan’t instead of shall not
  • Won’t instead of will not