The Grammarphobia Blog

Contract law

Q: Lately, I have noticed a trend to use “is” in contractions that I think are inappropriate. For example, “Jodi’s going to the party.” Is this becoming acceptable? Am I the only one annoyed by it? 

A: There’s no reason to be annoyed.

The verb “be” can properly be contracted with its subject (a pronoun, a common noun, or a name) as well as with the word “not.”

This has long been standard usage. In fact, contractions were used in Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons. The Old English nis, for example, is a contraction of ne is (“is not”).

So it’s grammatically correct to contract “is” with a pronoun (as in “she’s not going”), a common noun (“the building’s on fire”), a name (“Jodi’s not going”), or “not” (“Jodi isn’t going”).

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