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"Hard to help a boy who's vanished off the face of the earth," said Dirk.

"Listen, the fact that they haven't caught him yet's one hell of an achievement," said Ted. "I'd take tips from him gladly. It's what we're trying to do, stay free, isn't it?"

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Is 'yet's' "yet is"? Is it a normal contraction?

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Yes, it is a contraction for "yet is" (with "yet" concluding the subject clause and "is" being the main verb). It is not a "canned" contraction that you can find in a dictionary. Rather, the vowel sound is dropped from "is" and the "s" sound is tacked onto the end of the preceding word for words where this is comfortable to pronounce. This kind of contraction is common in spoken English, but unusual in writing unless, as here, the writing represents spoken dialogue.

Other simple examples:

  • "The ball's red." (The ball is red.)
  • "Who's going to the store?" (Who is...?)
  • "Bob's at home today." (Bob is...)

This can also be done with other simple verbs like "will" (drop the "wi-" sound and tack the "L" sound to the end of the preceding word) and so on.

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  • I don't think "yet's" is common even in speech. It feels strange. – AIQ Nov 11 '19 at 7:33
  • @AIQ It doesn't feel strange to me at all (midwest U.S. speaker). I'm quite sure. – TypeIA Nov 11 '19 at 8:03
  • So, are you saying that whenever "is" is the main verb, a contraction can be done with the last word of a subject clause? I still can't wrap my head around this. If someone were to tell me that (the sentence), I would expect a very small pause after "yet" (e.g., the very fact that this hasn't been done [pause] shows ...) for emphasis. Contraction (i.e., of yet's) kind of takes away that pause, I think. Would you say this is common usage - "the very fact that this hasn't been done's proof that..."? Doesn't it eliminate that slight pause after "done"? – AIQ Nov 11 '19 at 8:17
  • @AIQ I would say that it is very common in spoken English. That slight pause you mention's not always there. :) It's a contraction much in the same vein as saying "this 'n' that" or using "gonna" in place of "going to," a phonetic representation of a common verbal shortcut. – BobRodes Nov 11 '19 at 8:34
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    @AIQ Rather than thinking of it as being in fiction writing, I think it's more accurate to see it as something that might come up in quoted text, whether fictional conversation or otherwise. – BobRodes Nov 11 '19 at 8:44

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