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College Essay Contractions: Some Grammar Rules to Follow

essay contractions

To write a good college essay, there are factors you have to put into consideration. There are guidelines worth following to the latter to get the right grade. Ensure you avoid mistakes that might cost you entry into the college of your choice. You need to be careful with the use of contractions. 

Contractions are the short form of two words: don’t instead of do not. Usually, there will be an apostrophe replacing the missing word. These contractions are mostly used in informal writing, such as dialogue and speech.

But avoid using them in formal writing such as essays. However, there are circumstances where the use of contractions in essays is acceptable, for instance, when quoting a speaker.

What are Contractions in an Essay?

A college essay is a form of formal writing. That being the case, as a student, you need to avoid contractions. They are less formal. However, you can use them in narrative essays or just sparingly in your writing.

Contractions In An Essay

When using the contractions, they tend to reduce the word count of your essay.

This might be a great way of ensuring you easily maintain your optimal word count.

You can reduce two words into one hence not exceeding the word count set by far.

Normally a college application essay ought to be personal. You have to tell a story that will fetch you good grades. In this regard, you can use the contractions.

However, there is always a catch. You should not overuse those short forms. Only use them when they make sense. Overusing them can turn your application as the worst essay to be received.

Can I Use Contractions in a College Essay?

Many tutors discourage the use of contractions when writing college essays. But there are circumstances whereby the use of contractions is acceptable.

For instance, you can heed that call when the instructions allow us to use short forms of words. Before you begin writing your essay, ensure you read the instructions thoroughly. You might find that clause allowing you to use contractions.

English contractions

There is always a clause in the essay instructions that tells you how many words you should write. Know what universities look for in your application.

Unfortunately, when it comes to word count, a significant number of students are prone to having a challenge.

Either they might end up with a lower or higher word count. However, you can avoid facing such instances. Embrace the use of contractions to ensure you manage your word count.

If the essay is not clear about the language to use, it opens a window for you to use contractions. However, there will always be the need to be careful not to overuse them.

You can also choose to inquire from your tutor to ascertain if you can use contractions.

This prevents you from going against the tutor’s rules while assessing your essay. So do not just assume that since there are no instructions not to use shortened words, you can use them. 

Analytical, argumentative, extended, and compare and contrast essays are normally formal. Therefore, any student undertaking those essays should desist from the use of contractions.

But with college application essays, you can break some rules. Since they are less formal, you can insert some contractions. The admissions board might be lenient and not penalize you for using them.

When quoting speeches in your college essay, you can use contractions. This allows you to write the exact words said by the speaker. It brings authenticity to the message you are attempting to pass across. The message is raw without any form of manipulation. For direct speech, do not shy away from using words such as doesn’t.

If you want your college essay to be casual and connect with the tutor on a personal level, then use contractions. They provide personalization to your message. You can easily speak your mind and tell your story. And that is the essence of a college application essay. You have to make it personal to tell the admissions board about yourself.

Why Using College Essay Contractions is Not Recommended

As stated earlier, most college essays require you to use a formal writing format. For instance, if your essay is argumentative, you have to show the seriousness it deserves. You have to avoid using contractions.

using contractions

They will not show the weight in the message you are passing across. This is also the case when writing an analytical essay.

You have to ensure that you avoid shortening words at all costs.

There is always the tendency of overusing contractions.

This is why most tutors do not recommend it. Even if the instructions allow you, ensure you use them sparingly.

The flexibility of using shortened words is not a go-ahead to overuse them. Take time and write words in full so that your essay does not seem like a text message.

Once you finish writing your college essay, read it aloud to ensure your tone is consistent. This is very important in making your essay appealing to the assessment team.

Shorten words are bound to derail the consistency of the tone you are using in your essay. So how do you avoid such an incidence from happening? Even if using shortened words is acceptable as per the instructions, make sure you maintain a formal tone.

Fulfilling the essay word count is not a walk in the park. At some point, the shortened words might make it hard for you to achieve the set word count. It will be prudent to write words in full so that you do not fall short of the threshold. So even if you want to prenasalize your essay, ensure you also consider the word count. 

And if your essay requires you to use a professional tone, then using short words is not a good idea. It is, therefore, your duty to avoid them as much as possible.

The use of contractions makes you sound less professional. Remember, contractions are popular in casual conversations and writings. Therefore, they might not be ideal if you want to present your message formally.

Tips on How to Avoid Contractions in College Essay

Most students find it hard to avoid contractions when writing college essays. Even worse, some go to the extent of overusing shortened words. However, there is always to avoid such a mistake. Here are some of the tips that you can use:

1. Normalize Writing Words in Full

This will give you the habit of not using short words. You will become a master in this art since practice makes perfect. And if you constantly practice not to overuse them, you will kill that tendency.

2. Reading the Instructions

Some students do not pay attention to the written instructions. This is where the rubber meets the rod. There might be a clause that requests you not to use contractions. So, if you do not read the instructions, you might make the mistake of using contractions.

3. Respect the Word Count

Maintaining your word count can be a problem. One of the reasons you might not achieve the word count is by using shortened words since they reduce the number of words. If you want to respect the set word count, then ensure you avoid contractions.

4. Seek your Tutor’s Guidance

Ensure you inquire from your tutor if you need to use contractions. You will get the guidance you need so that you do not make any mistakes in regard to shortening words.

Most students tend to use contractions in their college essays. If you intend to sound personal and casual, using contractions is not a crime. Do not just overuse them. But if you have to sound professional, avoid contractions like the plague.