I'm a bit confused when I use the contracted form of present perfect.

Do you write like this?

My house's just been built.

Or you write like this:

My house has just been built.

Which one is correct? Are there any rules for this?

  • I think both are correct, but I'd say, "My house has just been built." To my ear it sounds better. I think that is because of the word 'has' -- and all the 's' sounds. My house's value is $123456, works.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:03
  • 1
    @Willow Sound doesn't come into this... the question is about written English.
    – Catija
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:15
  • It all depends where the sentence is going to be used. See this post about the use of contractions. If in formal writing do not use contractions. When speaking or informal writing contractions are OK.
    – None
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:26
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    @Catija Actually sound most definitely does come into this. A contraction of has or is involves the loss of a syllable. However, there is no loss of a syllable in the OP's example because of the /s/ sound at the end of the original noun. For this reason the first example does not work well. It's not possible to cliticise the /z/ onto the noun base ending in /s/. Apr 22, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Willow You might find my comment to Catija above useful/interesting. Apr 22, 2017 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


Unless there is another reason to do so (such as clues from the discourse within which your sentence is part of), a reader will interpret the sentence to have been written in standard English (SE). And in SE, both ways of writing the present perfect are acceptable. However in formal writing, you may wish to stick to not using contractions, especially when indicating the present perfect. On the other hand, in informal English the contracted form might be the most natural way to express the present perfect and so it might be the expected form–especially if the intention is to represent or mimic spoken English.

  • 2
    In my (British) speech "house has" has a different vowel (/ə/) from possessive "house's" (/ɪ/), so I would never write "house's" for "house has", even though in normal speech I would not pronounce the 'h' of 'has'.. But this is an oddity of words ending with /s/ and a couple of other sibilants. I would happily write "His car's just been fixed", because I pronounce the word identially with "cars" and "car's" (possessive). .
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 22, 2017 at 16:41
  • @ColinFine I think the issue is that you cannot cliticise a has or is onto a base ending in a sibilant. You can't just stick a /z/ on there. So because there's no loss of a syllable, house's won't work. Apr 22, 2017 at 18:14
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    @AraucariaMan: I'm not sure if I agree. In my dialect, "The house is sold" and "The house's sold" would sound identical, and I think it's only convention that you don't write the second.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 22, 2017 at 21:32

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