Why Are My Contractions All over the Place

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As a copy editor, I often come across writing where contractions are inconsistent in their usage. It’s understandable why this happens. Contractions are a common feature of informal English. They make sentences less rigid and more conversational. However, their role in formal writing is less clear, and this often leads to confusion.

If you’re wondering why your contractions are inconsistent, there are a few explanations that could help you make sense of it. Here are some of the reasons why your contractions may be all over the place:

1. You’re unsure about the tone of your writing

Contractions are often used in informal writing, such as blog posts, personal emails, and text messages. However, in more formal writing, like academic papers or professional emails, contractions may not be suitable. It can be difficult to determine the appropriate tone for your writing, and as a result, you may find yourself using contractions inconsistently.

2. You’re not consistent with your style guide

If you’re writing for an organization or publication, it’s essential to follow a style guide. Style guides offer guidelines on grammar, punctuation, and style. They also offer guidance on the use of contractions. Some style guides may discourage the use of contractions altogether, while others may allow them in specific circumstances. If you’re not consistent with your style guide, you may find that your contractions are all over the place.

3. You’re not proofreading your work

Inconsistencies with contractions can often stem from a lack of careful proofreading. When you proofread your work, you’re more likely to catch errors and inconsistencies. If you’re not proofreading your work, you may miss contractions that are incorrectly used or missing.

4. You’re trying to sound too formal

It can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to sound too formal in your writing. You may think that using contractions will make your writing sound too colloquial. However, this can lead to inconsistencies in your use of contractions. In reality, using contractions can help make your writing sound more natural and conversational.

In conclusion, inconsistent use of contractions can be frustrating, but it’s not uncommon. If you’re struggling with this issue, it’s important to determine the appropriate tone for your writing, follow a style guide, proofread your work carefully, and avoid trying to sound overly formal. With a little practice, you’ll be able to use contractions consistently and effectively in your writing.

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