It’s clear that we can say we’re, they’re, he’s, she’s. However, when the subjects are not subject pronouns, can we use short forms of be? For example, can we say:

My dad’s washing the car. Jane and Kate’re eating. Their children’re running


  • That's something that is frequently pronounced that way, and you'd think we'd also be able to spell it that way (it makes sense), but it's not normally done. However, when writing characters who are speaking, it's not uncommon to see that kind of contraction. But you won't see it most other forms of writing. – Jason Bassford Jan 13 at 6:19

It depends on whether you want to know if we "can" do this in pronunciation or in writing. In pronunciation, you can use schwa for the vowel of "are" after a subject like "Jane and Kate" or "Their children". But in spelling, it's not necessarily a good idea to write this with an apostrophe.

The plural subject pronouns we, you, they end in vowels, so what is written 're in this context is a non-syllabic sound: we're, you're and they're are all single syllables. (Their exact pronunciation differs between different speakers, and depending on the rate of speech.)

"Kate" and "children" end in consonants, so you can't use a non-syllabic "-re" after them. But you certainly can weaken the vowel of "are" to a schwa sound (in American English, this would be a "rhoticized" schwa sound, or a syllabic "r" sound).

Some speakers are comfortable with representing this schwa sound with an apostrophe. But personally, I don't like to write contractions when I pronounce a schwa sound, so I would avoid writing "Jane and Kate’re eating" or "Their children’re running."

I think we see a somewhat similar situation with the contraction 've. In the pronoun contractions I've, you've, we've, they've, it represents a non-syllabic consonant /v/. Some people are comfortable with also using 've to represent syllabic [əv], as in "I would've", but I prefer to just write [əv] in these contexts as "have".

Aside from -n't "contractions" (which linguistically behave more like single words than contractions) and subject pronoun + auxiliary contractions, it's not that common to indicate "reduced" pronunciations in writing. People pronounce schwa in words like of or to but the written vowel in these words is very rarely replaced with an apostrophe.


In spoken conversation, the 'are' in e.g. 'Mike and Jim are drunk' will very often be shortened to something like the 're ending of they're, you're, we're etc, especially in a conversational setting when formality is not desired or required. Most native speakers have no difficulty doing this. To represent it in writing as in the original question is a matter of style and choice, and might be entirely appropriate e.g. in direct speech.

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