11

I know we can answer either :

  • No, it's not
  • No, it isn't

But is it accepted and understandable to write :

No, it'sn't

What about saying it ?

  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/15001/216106 – Davo Mar 29 at 11:43
  • 3
    Nobody says it, because it's unpronounceable. I don't think you need any more "logic" than that fact! – alephzero Mar 29 at 18:15
  • It is incorrect in writing and it is incorrect in speech. – chasly from UK Mar 29 at 22:39
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    If you are Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) you may write this. If you aren't, you mayn't. – A. I. Breveleri Mar 30 at 19:05
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    @alephzero: Do you find it harder to pronounce than isn't or hadn't? – ruakh Mar 31 at 5:10
50

An acceptable, if somewhat archaic, contraction would be

'tisn't

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%27tisn%27t

  • This is a word that I use! I'm really curious now why it is acceptable to me and it'sn't it'sn't. (Though, of course, 'tisn't is only acceptable to me at the beginning of a clause) – Spitemaster Mar 29 at 15:42
  • According to @Spitemaster, your answer "tisn't" can't be placed after "No", right? Like in my post, "No, 'tisn't"? – J.Khamphousone Mar 29 at 16:42
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    t'isn't is not archaic in everyday speech in parts of the West of England. – Michael Harvey Mar 29 at 18:15
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    @J.Khamphousone In that case, "'tisn't" is at the start of a clause (unless I'm doing my grammar wrong). In any case, it seems alright to me. – Spitemaster Mar 29 at 19:20
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    Just guessing, but I think the reason "'tisn't" (and "it's not", and "it isn't") are all widely accepted, but "it'sn't" isn't (though not unheard of), is because the last puts the stress on "it", and not than on "is" or "not". And that'sn't a stress pattern most English speakers use. – Tim Pederick Mar 31 at 1:43
13

You are asking if it is acceptable to write:

No, it'sn't

The answer is: no, it is not acceptable.

A contraction is normally (and traditionally) of two words, not three. So when you intend to say "it is not" you can either contract "it is" to "it's", or "is not" to "isn't".

Exceptions to this would fall under the description of nonstandard, colloquial or dialectal contractions - where regional dialects slur words together so they sound like a contraction, but strictly speaking they should not be written as such. True, some writers of literature use artistic licence and make their own written representations of such dialects. Generally, though, these would be pronounceable phonetically. I suggest that your example of "it'sn't" is neither acceptable according to the rules of grammar, nor is it a representation of any dialect. It looks like it would be pronounced as "itsent", and that is not anything I have ever heard as a well-travelled native British English speaker.

  • 17
    If you'd've posed this answer before I read this question, I'd've agreed. – Davo Mar 29 at 11:52
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    Acceptability depends in the main on the context, register, and situation. The word in question is definitely pronounceable. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/it%27sn%27t – userr2684291 Mar 29 at 12:42
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    I disagree with "A contraction is of two words, not three". In some works you see words like "couldn't've". Perhaps it's not the primary spelling but it does seem to be an acceptable alternative to many writers. – Muzer Mar 29 at 14:09
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    I think you're on shaky ground when you say that three-word contractions don't exist. I wouldn't've said that. (That's another example, along with the previous comment.) In this case, the specific example wouldn't be used. I also think that while pronunciation plays part of the role, the bigger issue is simply that it isn't done with this particular set of words. – Jason Bassford Mar 29 at 14:09
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    "O'clock" is a contraction for "o[f the ]clock", and is hardly non-standard. It does, however, have a single apostrophe, which seems to be the critical criterion for a contraction to be "standard". – Monty Harder Mar 29 at 17:54
6

It is neither accepted nor understandable to say or write that. Say it isn't (2 words). Or you could say "it's not".

3

'tain't okay.

"It is not" can be contracted into a single contraction. This contraction is different from the one proposed by the original poster. According to Merriam-Webster, "'tain't" is at least 245 years old. Because it includes "ain't", it is not Standard English.

  • "'tain't" is probably more acceptable in American English than British English. – Martin Bonner Mar 31 at 17:44
  • 1
    @MartinBonner : That's 'coz AmE is tainted. – Magoo Mar 31 at 18:04

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