A basic example:

-Hey, will you be at the party this Friday?

A guy I know does that all the time and I can't convince him that this isn't correct... or is it?

For me it just sounds stupid and is hard to pronounce only one word like that

  • 5
    I don't know if it's wrong -- it's actually kind of funny and you know what he means by it. It reminds me of another similar play on words, when you say something unbelievable and your friend exclaims "No way!" and you respond "Way!" (instead of something like "No, it's true!"). It's a simple negation of a silly idiomatic expression. – Andrew Jan 11 '17 at 19:57
  • 3
  • I can't vouch for the correctness (or not) but wanted to draw attention to I'll referring to multiple (IMO valid) responses - namely "I will" and "I shall". – kwah Jan 11 '17 at 22:43
  • If your friend wants to talk that way, there is no one who can say his usage is wrong or right. There is no Court of the English Language. – AmE speaker Jan 12 '17 at 2:55
  • @kwah: "I will" would sound wrong too, IMO. It would have to be "Yes, I will" or similar. I'm not sure why! – Harry Johnston Jan 12 '17 at 10:20

Only unstressed auxiliaries can be contracted.

But when an auxiliary is used by itself to 'code' (stand for) the longer verb phrase it introduces, it is always stressed.

        Will you be at the party this Friday?
right! I will be at the party.

Consequently, an auxiliary used this way cannot be contracted.

          Will you be at the party this Friday?
wrong! I'll be at the party.

** ADDED **

anotherdave reminds us of a couple of contexts in which this principle seems not to be followed:

  • With contractions in which not becomes n't—"I shan't!", "I won't", "I haven't!", and so forth. Here, however, the verb is still emphasized; and it is really only not which is contracted, losing its vowel and its syllabic status; the last consonant of the auxiliary assimilates to the n't, which is really a separate phenomenon.

  • With contractions followed by not—"I'll not", "I've not", and so forth. In these cases the auxiliary does not 'code' the entire remainder of the following verb phrase: it remains unstressed, just as it is in the unreduced form, and the emphasis falls on not.

  • 1
    Does that apply only when in answer to a question? For example — '"You horrid, nasty children!" said Kevin. "You know quite well that we built this castle, and we wanted to sit on top when the tide came in. Get down at once!' 'Shan't! Shan't Shan't" sang the twins, and they made rude faces at the others'Enid Blyton's Holiday Stories, p46. Possibly it's meant to be ungrammatical because they're children (though I suspect anyone who uses the word "shan't" is a stickler for grammar!) – anotherdave Jan 11 '17 at 21:03
  • 4
    @anotherdave Shan't is fine (so is Won't!), because it's really the negator that's fully contracted, losing its syllabic identity, not the verb; the loss of the final consonant in will and shall is a post-contraction effect. The same thing happens with ain't for isn't/amn't/aren't/haven't/hasn't, and with the modals woon't and coon't in actual speech. – StoneyB Jan 11 '17 at 21:18
  • 1
    To be honest, it sounds like it's the presence of negation that makes it sound correct (just to my ears, not sure about the rules around it), even if it's verb that's contracted rather than the negator. For example — 'Will you be at the party this Friday? I'll not', sounds reasonably OK to me (though "I won't" would be more natural). With other verbs, it sounds (to me) even more normal, e.g. "Have you taken the dog for a walk?" "I've not" (obviously "I haven't" too). I wouldn't defend "I've" or "I'll" as answers, but these seem OK. Interesting question! – anotherdave Jan 11 '17 at 21:34
  • 2
    To add another perspective, "I will be at the party". answers the question "Will you be at the party?", whereas "I will be at the party". answers the question "Who will be at the party?". To contract the former you can simply say "I will", but the latter might shorten as "I'll be". – J... Jan 12 '17 at 1:42

This is as wrong as wrong can be! He should be saying I will. After all, you don't say I'm in response to the question Are you a human?. You say I am. You need that expanded form to give the emphasis to the verb. And it is indeed very difficult to say on its own because you just never hear people say that. Long story short, what your friend does is wrong.


— Hey, will you give me a wakeup call tomorrow's morning? Otherwise, I'll be late again.
— No worries. I will.

  • 3
    Yes, it's intuitively wrong to a native speaker, but I think it would be helpful to give some explanation of why it's wrong. – Werrf Jan 11 '17 at 21:07
  • 1
    Your companion example exhibits exactly the same problem OP was asking about. If he understood that example, he surely would already have understood what he asked about. He wants an explanation, not more examples of the same thing. – MPW Jan 12 '17 at 14:16

Logically speaking, it is correct. Because the information is being conveyed.

But, sometimes the correct emphasis is not given, which makes the word sound like the person is uninterested.

But, it is correct as an answer.

  • Information being conveyed does not make an utterance correct! Otherwise I could just as well write, "Information being conveyed do not maked a utterance corrects!" – LarsH Jan 12 '17 at 13:17
  • Would you mind explaining why does an utterance cannot be information? – Rahul Bali Jan 12 '17 at 14:40
  • I didn't mean that an utterance can't convey information. However, an utterance can convey information without being correct. For example, "You am beautiful" conveys information, but is not grammatically correct. – LarsH Jan 12 '17 at 15:04
  • Sure is flattering though. – William Isted Jan 12 '17 at 15:18
  • Nobody in the world would speak, "You am beautiful". Exceptions are many, some mean much more than others. And Grammar is nothing, but decided by people how they choose to speak. – Rahul Bali Jan 12 '17 at 20:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.