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he's not going anywhere has 49,600 results.

he isn't going anywhere has 5,650 results.

(I performed a similar search in a private library, and the difference was more or less the same.)

Is the second contraction less common in this kind of sentence? If so, what could be the reason?

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    Probably so that the speaker can emphasize "not". How do the contracted forms compare to "he is not going anywhere"?
    – ColleenV
    Apr 6, 2022 at 14:56
  • Those searches do not reflect how people actually speak which is impossible to gauge.
    – Lambie
    Jan 27, 2023 at 20:51

1 Answer 1

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I had noticed the much higher frequency of the first structure a long time ago, and your search confirmed my guess, because I don't remember many (or in fact any) instances of hearing "isn't" and "aren't" in American movies. It's (almost) always like this:

He's not there. / They're not here. Is he a student? No, he's not. Are they going somewhere? No, they're not.

My guess is that it's because "isn't" and "aren't" take a little more energy to pronounce than "'s not" and "'re not". The latter two are easier to prnounce. You can try it for yourself and make a comparison.

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  • That comment about American movies makes little sense. "isn't" and "aren't" are everywhere in American movies just like in everyday language.
    – Lambie
    Jan 27, 2023 at 20:51

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