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For example is

but I don't see how's that relevant

grammatical?

As for longer contractions, many of the ones that I've found on the internet don't seem to be legitimate. For example:

mustn't've

clearly exists, but I cannot say the same for

how'on't

3
  • I'd be very curious to see your sources. Where are you finding that any of your examples are being used in a sentence? Speech in quotes is used to indicate how someone is talking. It is not always grammatically correct. Feb 16, 2021 at 20:41
  • [and when can't you?]
    – Lambie
    Feb 16, 2021 at 21:12
  • how'on't is not even recognizable as a contraction.
    – Lambie
    Feb 17, 2021 at 14:40

3 Answers 3

2
  • You can contract "is" and "has" when they are auxiliary verbs to 's
  • You can contact "are" to "'re" and "am" to "'m"
  • You can contract "have" when it is an auxiliary verb to 've
  • You can contract "had" and "would" (auxiliary) to 'd.
  • You can contract "will" and "shall" to "'ll"
  • You can contract "not" to n't when forming the negation of a verb
  • You can contract "can not" to "can't", "do not" to "don't" and "will not" to "won't"
  • There are a number of other colloquial and idiomatic contractions such as "gonna" for "going to" or "aint" for "am not/is not"
  • Contractions are less common when the subject of the verb is not a pronoun, at least in written English.

*Rules are subject to editing as I think of more examples

You can't contract any of these auxiliary verbs when they are fronted in a question or otherwise inverted. So "What am I to do" but never "What'm I to do".

All contractions are somewhat informal and avoided in the most formal written or spoken English.

Double contractions are rare and to be avoided, even if possible. So I'd avoid "mustn't've" in writing (even though it follows the rules above)

In you example, the contraction wouldn't be a problem, but the underlying grammar is incorrect:

You should say "I don't see how that's relevant"

(Expanding the contraction in your example gives I do not see how is that relevant. But the object of "see" must be a noun phrase and not a question, so the correct noun phrase is "how that is relevant". This confusion between a question like "What is it?" and a noun phrase like "what it is" is common and has been asked and answered here before)

You can't contract "do" to "'o" so "how do not" cannot be contracted to how'on't

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_English_contractions

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  • Contractions are most definitely not to be avoided in everyday speech. What an idea....If you can't use contractions and tags, you aren't very good in English.
    – Lambie
    Feb 16, 2021 at 21:09
  • I’ll admit that y’all’s’dn’t’ve (the best I’ve managed to use in a sentence) is stretching things, but many double contractions are perfectly fine in informal speech, such as the OP’s mustn’t’ve.
    – StephenS
    Feb 16, 2021 at 23:34
  • @Lambie I only say that contractions should be avoided in the most formal written English and speech. Double contractions — I only suggest avoiding in written English, in speech or in dialogue (ie written transcripts of speech) they are fine. You'll not that I've used contractions throughout my answer and in this comment.
    – James K
    Feb 16, 2021 at 23:57
  • Could you explain why is my example ungrammatical?
    – Alumi
    Feb 17, 2021 at 6:35
  • 1
    @asdfghjkl [Question form: Could you explain why my example is ungrammatical.]
    – Lambie
    Feb 17, 2021 at 14:38
1

Most informal contractions like these will be written down when the writer is conveying spoken English. Then anything the reader can understand is acceptable.

In your example you want

but I don't see how that's relevant

The way you wrote it the contracted "is" is in the wrong place.

1

There are standard contractions and there are contractions used by writers in dialogue:

So, contractions and tags like the ones below, are standard:

  • He must have left early, mustn't he? [standard]
  • He mustn't have liked them much, must he? [the tag here is less usual]
  • They speak Hindi, don't they? [standard]
  • They should have done the work better, shouldn't they [have]?

They could all be said with an 've.

I cannot list every single one here. That said, writers of dialogue in movie scripts or authors will use ones that are not standard but that are an attempt to reflect actual speech.

So: when you have verbs like: should have gone, should have seen, "might have finished" and other modals like that, authors try to make the dialogue sound like speech, so they use:

  • should've gone
  • might've done
  • might've finished
  • could've seen
  • would've seen

However, they are not standard. They are writing tricks to make dialogue sound more attuned to how people speak.

Whenever the 've is a modal plus a past participle [could have done as could've done], that is what you are dealing with.

"I don't see how's that relevant" is not idiomatic at all. The usual is: I don't see how that's relevant.

I have not gone into every single issue or case here but that is the general idea.

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