Tuesday, October 19, 2021

"Are we allowed to use contractions?"

In my first-semester Academic Writing class this term, several students have formulated questions in terms of what they are "allowed" to do. One simple question was whether they are "allowed to use contractions" in their essays. After a short answer ("Yes"), I discussed how contractions associated with an informal register, which might seem to run counter to a neutral or formal academic tone. I also added the more practical point that contractions can reduce word count, if that's necessary (a trick I regularly use in these texts). But ultimately, I concluded, what's "allowed" in academic writing often depends on one's style sheet – in our case, the MLA Handbook, which "allows" contractions. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 October 2021)

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