1. NewBee
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    NewBee Senior Member

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    Contractions in non-fiction

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by NewBee, Apr 18, 2010.

    Hello :)

    I was reading a review in the non-fiction area, and someone mentioned it is not right to use contractions in formal writing. Would this be referring to non-fiction in general? Is there a rule?

    I had gone to the store.

    I'd gone to the store.

    Hmmm... Which would you prefer to see?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Formal nonfictioin (essays, dissertations, research reports, etc.) generally discourage contractions, although in many cases even these kinds of nonfiction are encouraging more "comfortable" writing, as long as precision is not compromised.

    But nonfiction also includes histories, and biographies, how-to guides, and articles. These are written in much more conversational language, including contractions and incomplete sentences.
     
  3. NewBee
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    NewBee Senior Member

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    Cog, you're my hero :)

    TY
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    had cog not gotten here ahead of me [as he usually does, due to where i am in the world!], i'd have said the same thing...

    i will add, however, that there are both formal essays and personal essays... the latter are generally written more casually...
     
  5. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    What about contractions in fiction? I've never really thought it looked right, although that's probably because I've written a lot of academic work recently so I've gotten into that writing mindset.

    EDIT: Is it a personal choice thing?
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I just assume contractions is not used in fiction narration, except of course dialogues. But I am not sure. So, I would like to know this too.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't use contractions in the narrative unless one of the characters is narrating the story, but this just may be a personal choice since, as far as I know, there is no strict rule about using contractions in the narrative.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to write fiction without contractions because when I was young I thought they were a form of cheating. I thought contractions were not just informal, they were improper.

    Now I use contractions and my prose is a lot looser and, to my way of thinking, better. I read over my old stuff and it's laughably formal.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no good reason to avoid using contractions in fiction narrative, no matter who the narrator is... but of course overuse is to be avoided...
     

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