You’re at lesson five of Unboring Your Writing. We’ll be talking about contractions in this lesson. Today’s short because contractions are pretty easy, and also because I want to give you a bit of a breather in the middle of the course.

So. Contractions. In writing this mini-course (and my workbook, Blog in Bloom), I’ve been researching blog posts and breaking them down to find where people struggle with writing and grammar. I’ve analysed what bloggers tend to get wrong in their posts, and what they do well in terms of style.

Every single blog post I’ve analysed so far has used contractions.

Just briefly, a contraction is when you pull two words together, cut some letters out, and insert an apostrophe.

it is = it’s / I have = I’ve / would have = would’ve etc. You know how it goes.

Why are contractions rampant in blog posts? It’s because they’re essential in creating a casual, conversational tone—and that’s what the majority of bloggers are going for. In academic or formal writing, you’re not going to find as many contractions because they sound casual—but that’s what makes them perfect for most bloggers. You want to win your reader over; you want them to think of you as a friend. Contractions are going to help them to feel like you’re talking directly to them; it breaks down the barrier of the screen a little bit.

Take these examples:

I have been thinking…

I’ve been thinking…

I do not know…

I don’t know…

Which sound more casual? More friendly? More natural? Probably the examples with contractions, right? It doesn't seem like a huge difference, but a whole blog post of non-contractions is going to sound much different from a blog post filled with contractions.

If you come across a sentence in your writing that sounds a bit stiff, check to see if you can swap some contractions in for some more serious-sounding phrases. Often, that’s going to help with the tone.

Exercise: Go to your favourite blogger’s most recent post and watch for contractions. Were there many? Do you think they added to the post?

(If you don’t have a favourite blogger, go to byRegina.com. And then enjoy getting lost in her millions of amazing posts.)

Enjoying the course? I'm so glad! If you're liking this, you'll love my workbook, Blog in Bloom. Available as a digital or printed book, Blog in Bloom steps you through all the writing and grammar things you *probably* should have learnt in high school (but didn't). But it's way more interesting than it would've been in high school, so really it's for the best. Find out more here.

PS: Want the Unboring Your Writing workbook? It's a printable and fillable PDF workbook with the same exercises as these lessons, plus answers. You can find it here.