Having multiple contractions in one word is something that’s fairly common in spoken English. You might not find it much in written English, though, and it would help to know more about that. This article will explain all there is to know about contractions.
Can a Word Be Contracted Twice?
A word can be contracted twice (like “wouldn’t’ve,” meaning “would not have”). It is grammatically correct, but it is not formal. It is only ever used in spoken English because native speakers have a habit of slurring words and sounds together.
You’ll find that this slurring of words is common in most spoken languages. If you’ve ever tried to learn another language by listening to natives speak it, you’ll find that some common words and phrases fuse together, and nobody bats an eye at it.
The same happens when someone is speaking in English. You might hear someone say the following:
- I wouldn’t’ve done that if I were you.
While this is fine to use in spoken English, it is not a formal form. In fact, the person who said it like that would often write it like this:
- I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.
And if they wanted to be even more formal, they would avoid contractions entirely:
- I would not have done that if I were you.
Are Double Contractions Grammatically Correct?
Double contractions are grammatically correct, but they are not formal. They are an informal way of speaking, and people use them when they slur their words together rather than pronouncing each individual part of the words. Most native speakers do this when speaking.
You will almost never see double contractions written down in English. English writing follows much stricter rules than speaking, so it makes more sense to remove double contractions when you are writing.
Most people stick to only using one contraction when they are writing something. In the most formal of situations, even one contraction might be a bit too much for some people. You have to make sure you are following the grammatical and formal rules.
Double contractions are used when multiple words are grouped together. For example:
- Wouldn’t’ve: “would not have”
It contains three words in it, but the apostrophes are used in the first word to allow you to group them together.
It’s not common practice, but it is acceptable.
Most people would rather stick to combining two words in their contractions. Whatever comes outside of the contraction will be left as a full word to avoid being too informal:
- Wouldn’t have: “would not have”
Here, “wouldn’t” is acceptable. Even some formal writing pieces would allow you to include this contraction if they felt like the “would not” variation was a bit too far.
How to Use Double Contractions In a Sentence
These examples contain double contractions. You should imagine them as if they’ve been said aloud rather than written down. You can refer to the later section about “most common double contractions” if you want to know what they stand for.
- I wouldn’t’ve been the one to tell her that. I think she’s going to get really annoyed at you now.
- You shouldn’t’ve said anything to her. It was a really stupid thing to do. Now, you’re going to pay for it.
- I mustn’t’ve done it. I thought I spent the time getting it done, but I suppose I was wrong about that! Sorry!
- This’s’n’t what I intended. My intentions were good, and I hope you’ll allow me to spend some time fixing this.
- I sha’n’t say more than that. I really don’t think it’s wise for me to say anything further about this situation.
- He’lln’t want to speak to you after this. I think it’s better if you let him come to terms with it in his own time.
- I thought he couldn’t’ve been there. You said so yourself, but now you appear to be going against your own words.
Are Triple Contractions Grammatically Correct?
Triple contractions are correct, but most people avoid using them. Single contractions are acceptable, double contractions are pushing the boundaries of formality, but triple contractions are too far for most native speakers to use. You often won’t find these used in any way.
Generally, people will stop using contractions at double contractions. When two apostrophes are used to shorten a word, most people believe it is far enough.
The words are slurred with double contractions, but they are still understandable. Most of the time, with triple contractions, the words are not understandable at first glance, and it can be difficult to figure them out.
This triple contraction combined “you” (y’), “ain’t” (have not), and “had” (‘d). The phrase “you have not had” or “you’ve not had” makes perfect sense already. “Y’ain’t’d” becomes quite confusing, and even native speakers will have a hard time figuring it out.
Some triple contractions can make a bit more sense, like:
This means “it would not have.” It can be used when “it” is supposed to come before “would,” but it’s still rare for people to use it.
- ‘Twouldn’t’ve mattered whether they were going to come or not.
- I’dn’t’ve the time to get any of this done if they hadn’t stalled for me.
- Y’ain’t’d much luck with the girls yet, have you, champ?
As you can see from these examples, triple contractions get very confusing very fast. It’s best to avoid them if you can.
Most Common Double Contractions
- Wouldn’t’ve: Would not have
- This’sn’t: This is not
- Mustn’t’ve: Must not have
- Shouldn’t’ve: Should not have
- Couldn’t’ve: Could not have
- Sha’n’t: Shall not
- ‘Twasn’t: It was not
- Can’t’ve: Can not have
- He’lln’t: He will not
- She’lln’t: She will not
Most Common Triple Contractions
- Y’ain’t’d: You have not had
- ‘Twouldn’t’ve: It would not have
- I’dn’t’ve: I would not have
- Fo’c’s’le: Forecastle
- Imma: I am going to
It is only possible to include multiple contractions in words when you are speaking. Double contractions are much more common in spoken English, and triple contractions are often too difficult to understand. Do not use either in written English, though.