If you\u2019re heavily pregnant and noticing a tightness in your uterus at regular intervals, congratulations! You\u2019re probably about to go into labor. However, if you\u2019re looking for advice on that issue, we\u2019re afraid you\u2019re in the wrong place. The \u201ccontractions\u201d we\u2019re interested in are words.\n\nBut what are these contractions? And how can you avoid errors when using them in your writing? Read on below to find out!\nWhat Are Contractions?\nA contraction is an abbreviation formed by combining two words. For instance:\nCould not = Couldn\u2019t\nI am = I\u2019m\nWhere is = Where\u2019s\nAs shown above, we use an apostrophe to indicate that letters have been dropped from the new word. All contractions are formed like this, so make sure not to miss the apostrophe out!\nWhen to Use Contractions\nContractions are very common in speech. As a result, you can use them in writing if you\u2019re aiming for an informal, friendly tone. They\u2019re also very useful in fiction, especially dialogue.\n\nHowever, since contractions are informal, you should not use them in formal writing (e.g., college papers and technical writing). The one exception to this is \u201co\u2019clock\u201d if you\u2019re writing down a time in full (this is actually a contraction of \u201cof the clock\u201d).\n\n[caption id="attachment_4544" align="aligncenter" width="215"] What time of the clock is it?[\/caption]\nWatch Out for These Sneaky Words!\nFinally, we\u2019ll end on a list of common contractions that are regularly misused or that could be confusing. Look out for these terms in your writing and make sure that you\u2019ve got them right:\n\n\n\n\nContraction\n\n\nWhat It Means\n\n\nCommon Errors\n\n\n\n\nIt\u2019s\n\n\nIt is or it has\n\n\nDon\u2019t confuse this term with the possessive determiner \u201cits\u201d (no apostrophe).\n\n\n\n\nThey\u2019re\n\n\nThey are\n\n\nNot to be confused for the possessive determiner \u201ctheir\u201d or the adverb \u201cthere.\u201d\n\n\n\n\nWe\u2019re\n\n\nWe are\n\n\nNot to be confused with the past tense verb \u201cwere\u201d or the adverb \u201cwhere.\u201d\n\n\n\n\nYou\u2019re\n\n\nYou are\n\n\nNot to be confused with the possessive \u201cyour.\u201d\n\n\n\n\nCan\u2019t\n\n\nCannot\n\n\nThe full form of this term is written as a single word, so make sure not to write \u201ccan not\u201d in formal writing.\n\n\n\n\nWon\u2019t\n\n\nWill not\n\n\nThis term is technically short for \u201cwoll not,\u201d since \u201cwoll\u201d is an old-fashioned spelling of \u201cwill.\u201d And although \u201cwill\u201d became standard for the positive form, the \u201co\u201d spelling became standard for the negative contraction.\n\n\n\n\nWith these terms, if you\u2019re not sure whether the contraction is correct, try using the expanded version in the sentence. For example, while \u201cwe\u2019re\u201d and \u201cwere\u201d look similar written down, there is an obvious difference between \u201cthey were happy\u201d (grammatical) and \u201cthey we are happy\u201d (ungrammatical).