Contractions (The Basics) - Podcast Episode 3

Here is Episode 3 of "The English Sessions" Podcast:

Audio Transcript:
Contractions (The Basics)

Welcome to episode 3 of The English Sessions. “The basics of contractions”. I am your host and English teacher, Mike Butler. These podcasts can help you improve your English! Together, we will talk about grammar… pronunciation… structure... and have some fun too. Remember to visit my website, to contact me for private lessons, and for more content.
You can also read the transcript of this audio as you listen to this episode.

Listen for these words today:
- To “focus on” means to pay attention to something specific. “I will focus on my homework now”.
- “Advice” is guidance, or recommendations from someone. “I have some great advice to share with you”.
- “To devote” means to give all or a large part of your time to something. “I will devote 3 hours today to playing video games”.

We have a message today from a Brazilian student of mine named Bruno.


What a great topic to focus on, Bruno! First, I want to say, Bruno is a great graphic design artist. He designed the cover art of The English Sessions podcast. You can find more information at

Second, I want to remind Bruno and my listeners, that “advice” is typically an uncountable noun in English. It is uncommon to say, “1 advice, 2 advices” in modern English. I will give everyone advice today, not “advices”. We will talk about uncountable nouns more in future episodes.

Today, however, let’s talk about the BASICS of contractions in English. There will be future episodes about contractions very soon, including informal contractions and pronunciation issues with contractions, but today is just the BASICS.

What is a contraction? It is the shortening of words into smaller words. Often, you are combining words into one single word. For example, a very common contraction is “can’t”. “Can’t” is a contraction of “can” and “not”, the negative of “can”. There are many negative contractions. Let’s focus on that first.

So, remember, “can’t” is the negative of “can”. “I can go to the store today”. You are able to go to the store today. And the negative, “I can’t go to the store today”. You are not able to go to the store today.

Bruno wants his English to sound more like native English speakers’, so I feel that I must explain something important. I am from the United States of America. Americans often don’t pronounce the ’t’ in “can’t”. “Can’t”. Do you hear the difference? BUT, when my students don’t pronounce the ’t’, I sometimes misunderstand them. That’s because a native English speaker will have different word stress, or word ‘emphasis’ for the negative sentence compared to the affirmative sentence. Also, in my accent, I have a different vowel sound for ‘can’ compared to ‘can’t. Do you hear the difference in my accent? “I can go to the store. I’m free right now.” “I can’t go to the store. I’m busy”.

There are many accents in English. It’s frustrating for learners. I know. I grew up in Rochester, New York. Rochester has their own accent. Yes, even different parts of New York have different accents!

So what is a contraction? Most often, a combination of two or more words into one word. LIST: Can’t; don’t; won’t; haven’t; didn’t; shouldn’t… Do you know all these? “can’t” is ‘can not’; “don’t” is ‘do not’; “won’t” is ‘will not’. “haven’t” is “have not”; “didn’t” is ‘did not’; “shouldn’t” is should not. I can’t go to the store; I don’t go to the store; I won’t go to the store; I haven’t gone to the store (present perfect verb tense); I didn’t go to the store; I shouldn’t go to the store!

That is the BASIC idea of contractions. Making two or more words into one. Does every contraction have an apostrophe? Like “can’t”: C-A-N-apostrophe-T”. OR “Don’t” D-O-N-apostrophe-T? No! For example, we will talk about informal contractions in another episode. “Wanna” is an informal contraction. “Wanna” is “want to”. I wanna go the store. I want to go to the store. Keep listening for more episodes on contractions soon.

Until next time, goodbye! Did you know ‘goodbye’ is a contraction of “God be with you”? I prefer “good be with you”. May good be with you all, until next time!

Any questions? Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time, this is Mike signing off.


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