Contractions in Question Tags and Synthesis & Transformation

As our students move into the second month of the school calendar year, our P6s are hard at work preparing for their first examination of their PSLE year – the Continual Assessment 1 (CA1). This week all the P6s had a Synthesis & Transformation class test that contained questions with contractions. So, in today’s blog post, I would like to talk about Contractions.


1. What are contractions

A contraction is a shortened form of a word or phrase that omits certain letters. An apostrophe replaces the missing letters.


2. When do we use contractions?

In writing, contractions can be used only in dialogue or in informal writing.

Contractions are also seen in Grammar (Question tag questions) and Synthesis & Transformation (Reported Speech questions) sections of Paper 2.


3. Examples of Contractions


‘s – is / has

This contraction can be confusing for many students as the ‘s can represent both is or has.

How can we tell the difference?

Check to see what follows after the contraction.

A past participle form follows has. In Example 2, the past participle form is ‘completed’

Example 1

He’s the Head Prefect of the school.

He is the Head Prefect of the school.

Example 2

He’s completed the homework.

He has completed the homework.


‘d- had / would

This contraction can also be confusing for students as ‘d can represent both had or would.

How can we tell the difference?

Check to see what verb follows the contraction.

A past participle form follows had. In Example 3, the past participle form is met.

A verb in the infinitive follows would. In Example 4, the verb in the infinitive form is bring.

Example 3

He’d met her before the party.

He had met her before the party.

Example 4

He’d bring the drinks for the party.

He would bring the drinks for the party.


‘ll – will

This contraction is straightforward. ‘ll is the contraction of will.

However, do take note that the contraction of will not is won’t. Often students mistake won’t as the contraction for would not.

Example 5

She’ll meet me at 5pm.

She will meet me at 5pm.

Now, let us look at examples of contractions in Question Tag questions found in the Grammar MCQ section of the English Paper 2.

He’d be done by 5pm , _____________ he?

(a) had

(b) hadn’t

(c) would

(d) wouldn’t

Students will need to identify if the ‘d represents he had or he would. In this case, be is a verb in the infinitive. Thus, here, the he’d is he would. The correct question tag would therefore be wouldn’t he?

Let us look at contractions used in Reported Speech in Synthesis & Transformation Questions found in Booklet B of Paper 2.

“I’ll meet you at the library tomorrow,” said my sister.

Firstly, students will need to identify that the ‘ll is will. Secondly, they will need to change will to would.

My sister told me that she would meet me at the library the next day.

I hope that this blog post has been helpful. Do drop by our blog or facebook page for more advice.

Would you like to read more of such posts?

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