Home » Auxiliary Verbs » Short Forms of Auxiliary Verbs

Short Forms of Auxiliary Verbs

Some auxiliary verbs have shortened forms, used both in speech and writing.

  • Im coming back
  • I’ll be back tomorrow.
  • She‘s thinking of joining the club.
  • We‘ve been here before.
  • They‘d surely have told us if they‘d known about it.

Short forms are always attached to the preceding word.

The short forms are as follows:

  • am becomes ‘m:
  • are becomes ‘re:
  • is becomes ’s:
  • have becomes ‘ve:
  • has becomes ’s:
  • had becomes ‘d:
  • will and shall become ’ll:
  • would becomes ’d:
  • I‘m coining.
  • You‘re going to fall!
  • He‘s looking for you.
  • We‘ve done it!
  • He‘s already left.
  • We‘d never seen anything like it.
  • We‘ll help you, and they‘ll help you too.
  • We‘d have helped you.
  • We’re coming!
  • She‘s only trying to help.
  • They‘ve arrived.
  • It’s been very warm recently.
  • He‘d done it.
  • They’d have come.

Be and have also have the same short forms when used as lexical verbs:

  • I‘m sure that’s not right.
  • He‘s not here at the moment.
  • We’re very sorry.
  • We’ve no way of knowing what she will do.
  • I’d no idea how serious the situation was.

Note, however, that‘s is not used as a short form of the lexical verb has, but only as a short form of the auxiliary verb.

Short forms of verbs are mostly used after personal pronouns, such as I, you, he, they, etc. But they can be used, especially ‘s, after other pronouns, after nouns, and after certain adverbs:

  • What’s the time?
  • Who’s that man she is talking to? The man who’s talking to her is her uncle.
  • That’s the one I want.
  • The horse I want is the one that’s there in the field.
  • Someone’s coming.
  • Somebody’s been here before us.
  • The man’s a complete fool!
  • Bob’s the man you need to talk to.
  • Where’s Tom going now?
  • There’s no time to be lost.
  • Here’s Mary now.
  • Now’s the right time to leave.
  • Why’s John not here?
  • How’s your mother these days?
  • Who’ll come with us?
  • That’ll be enough, I think.
  • Where’ll we go?
  • There’ll be trouble over this, I’m telling you.
  • There’re several things I’d like to know.
  • There’d be no time for questions.
  • Where’d you get that bike?
  • Why’d he do it?
  • People who’ve read the book say there is nothing offensive in it.

Other combinations of the short forms of verbs with these or other words are possible and not incorrect, but are either much less common or much more informal; for example:

  • The boys’ll do it for you.
  • My girls’d help out for nothing.
  • How’ve you been?
  • Where’ve you been since we last met?
  • What’ve I got in my hand?
  • Who’re they trying to kid?
  • People who’re not in the Internet are missing out.

In informal writing, a short form of an auxiliary verb may follow another auxiliary verb, sometimes (very informally) even the short form of another auxiliary:

  • should’ve been there with them.
  • would’ve liked to go with them.
  • I’d’ve liked to go with them.
  • They could’ve been more helpful.
  • You might’ve missed something out in your calculations.

-n’t, the shortened form of not, is always attached to the preceding verb.

The preceding verb must be an auxiliary verb or else either of the lexical verbs be and have, -n’t cannot be attached to any other lexical verb.

  • She isn’t coming after all.
  • haven’t seen Lucy for a while.
  • They didn’t tell me you were here.
  • That wasn’t what I had expected to happen.
  • wouldn’t do that if I were you.
  • They realized they hadn’t enough money with them.

Note the special forms that some of the modal auxiliaries have when -n’t is added to them:

  • can + -n’t   can’t:
  • will + -n’t   won’t:
  • shall + -n’t   shan’t:
  • That can’t be true.
  • She says she won’t be coming.
  • We shan’t be needing any help, thank you.

Shan’t is now not very common in British English, and extremely rare in American English.

There is no word amn’t in Standard English. Instead of I amn’t, you must say I’m not, as in, for example:

  • I’m not coming.
  • I’m not your slave.

And in questions, you use aren’t instead of amn’t:

  • Aren’t I coming with you?
  • I am coming with you, aren’t I?

Ain’t is used in very informal spoken English as a short form equivalent to am not, is not, are not, have wot and has not:

  • ain’t coming with you.
  • He ain’t here. And his friends ain’t here either.
  • ain’t done nothing wrong.
  • He ain’t been here for weeks.

Ain’t is more frequent and slightly more acceptable in American English than in British English.

The short form -n’t cannot follow a short form of a verb. Either the short form of a verb must be followed by not (e.g. it’s not) or else -nt must be attached to the full form of a verb (e.g. it isn’t or it hasn’t):

  • I’m not
  • you’re not
  • he’s not
  • she’d not
  • they’ve not
  • he’ll not
  • I amn’t is not possible, as explained above)
  • you aren’t
  • he Isn’t OR he hasn’t
  • she hadn’t OR she wouldn’t
  • they haven’t
  • he won’t

Leave a Comment

error: Alert: Content is protected !!