A contraction in English is a short form often used in speaking. It is usually the combination of a subject and an auxiliary verb or the combination of a verb and "not."

Although we do not usually use contractions in formal writing, they are very common in real English conversations. They can be a little confusing at first, so be sure you understand how they are used.

It is very common for native speakers to use contractions with the verb "be" in the present simple for positive and negative sentences. But we cannot use contractions in questions!

For example:
  • She's really tired.
  • She isn't really tired. OR: She's not really tired.
  • Is she really tired?
It is also important to remember that some contractions for different auxiliary verbs look the same. This happens with the verbs "had" and "would."

For example:
  • I had talked to her before dinner. = I'd talked to her before dinner.
  • I would love to go with you! = I'd love to go with you!
This might seem confusing at first, but if you look at the rest of the sentence, you can tell that the tenses are different. The first sentence uses the past perfect, but the second one uses the modal verb "would."

Review the contractions table as you learn new verb tenses in English. But most importantly, listen to native speakers as much as you can in conversations, on the radio, or on TV. You will soon get used to how they use contractions and start to use them naturally yourself.