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Informal Contractions

Josef Essberger

English learners are often puzzled by expressions like GONNA or WANNA that they often hear in movies or perhaps read in comic strips. If they look up these expressions in a dictionary, they may not find them, which increases the puzzlement even further.

In fact, these expressions do exist and can be found in good (big) dictionaries. They are "informal contractions" or short forms of other words that people use when speaking casually. They are not exactly slang, but they are a little like slang.

For example, GONNA is a short form of "going to". If you say "going to" very fast, without carefully pronouncing each word, it can sound like "gonna".

Here are some of the most common informal contractions, with example sentences:

GIMME = give me

  • Gimme your money.
  • Don't gimme that rubbish.
  • Can you gimme a hand?

GONNA = going to

  • Nothing's gonna change my love for you.
  • I'm not gonna tell you.
  • What are you gonna do?

GOTTA = (have) got a

  • I've gotta gun.
  • I gotta gun.
  • She hasn't gotta penny.
  • Have you gotta car?

GOTTA = (have) got to I've gotta go now.

  • I gotta go now.
  • We haven't gotta do that.
  • Have they gotta work?

INIT = isn't it

  • That's smart, init?
  • Init strange?

KINDA = kind of

  • She's kinda cute.
  • Are you kinda mad at me?

LEMME = let me

  • Lemme go!
  • He didn't lemme see it.

WANNA = want to

  • I wanna go home.
  • I don't wanna go.
  • Do you wanna watch TV?

WANNA = want a

  • I wanna coffee.
  • I don't wanna thing from you.
  • Do you wanna beer?

Please remember that these are informal contractions. That means that we do not use them in "correct" speech, and we almost never use them in writing. (If you see them in writing, for example in a cartoon, that's because the written words represent the spoken words or dialogue.) We use them only when speaking fast and casually, for example with friends, and many careful speakers never use them.

Also note that the sentences above may be rather artificial because when we use a contraction we may also use other contractions in the same sentence, or even drop some words completely. For example:

Do you want a beer?
Do you wanna beer?
D'you wanna beer?
D'ya wanna beer?
Ya wanna beer?
Wanna beer?

English Checker

  • artificial: not realistic
  • casual: relaxed; without much care; without formality
  • informal: relaxed and unofficial
  • puzzled: confused because difficult to understand
  • puzzlement: confusion
  • rather: quite, to a certain degree

© 2001 Josef Essberger

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