In combinatorics, the graph G:xy formed by replacing distinct nodes x and y with a single new node z which is connected to any nodes that were connected to either x or y is called a contraction of G .

--back to combinatorics--
That's pretty silly. A node on contractions where the writeups don't contain any contractions. There aren't even any examples above. I looked on the net for a list, and didn't really find anything suitable, so here's a stab.

Note that this list is not every possible contraction, just the ones that are most common.

Also, some of these are ambiguous. For example, is he's he has or he just have to figure it out from context.

Also, some have homophones, like they're vs. their and its vs. it's.


I'd I'll I'm I've ain't aren't can't couldn't didn't doesn't don't hadn't hasn't haven't he'd he's isn't it's she'd she's shouldn't they'd they're they've wasn't we'd we'll we're we've weren't where's who're who's won't wouldn't you'd you're you've


Unlinked contractions either don't have nodes, or are nodeshells. I'll leave them unlinked as a way of pointing them out. If you rescue one, let me know!

In Major League Baseball and other American-based professional sports, contraction is the process for eliminating one or more teams from the majors. It has not happened in the modern era of baseball -- the last contraction was 1899, when the National League went from 12 to 8 clubs, precipitating the formation of the American League to serve some of the abandoned cities. Immediately after the 2001 World Series, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that contraction was under consideration for the 2002 season, most likely a two-team contraction although some have argued for four. The rushed timeframe of the 2001-02 offseason, though, makes this look unlikely. Negotiations are underway between MLB and the players' union to agree on a contraction plan for the 2003 season.

It is almost universally agreed that the Montreal Expos would be one of the two teams contracted. The Expos were brought into the league in 1969, and while they did well up into the mid-1980s, the past 15 years or so have been one indignity after another. In their one decent season, 1994, the strike kept them from participating in postseason play (and, incidentally, kept them from breaking what would become the Atlanta Braves' 10-season run of divisional titles). Recently, the Expos have been unable to get an English-language radio contract for their home games, local television wanted the Expos to pay them to show games, and average attendance has hovered around 7,000 per game (which would be middle-of-the-pack attendance in Class AAA). The only opposition to the Expos' contraction is from the Washington, DC area, which would prefer that the Expos move to Washington or Northern Virginia. This is in turn opposed by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who views NoVA as part of his home market despite the virtual impossibility of reaching Baltimore from Northern Virginia in less than 2.5 hours (considering traffic) for a weeknight game.

The other club is more troublesome. Both the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays would appear to be good candidates; expanded into existence in 1993 and 1998 (respectively), neither has much history (although former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga did buy the 1997 World Series) or many fans in the stands. The Marlins demanded a new stadium in downtown Miami to let them move out of Fort Lauderdale's Pro Player Stadium; the voters of Miami-Dade County just laughed at them. Problem is, the Florida Attorney General has made threatening noises about subpoenaing financial records and challenging baseball's antitrust exemption (given by Congress in the 1910s). So some other sacrificial lamb needs to be found.

Enter the Minnesota Twins and owner Carl Pohlad. The Twins also demanded a publicly-financed new stadium, which Minnesota voters rejected heavily at the polls in 2000, to replace the Metrodome. Granted, Pohlad is an extremely rich man and could build a place himself if he wanted to, but why not soak the taxpayers? When the stadium plan was rejected, Pohlad decided that if Minnesotans didn't want to hand over even more of their absurdly high taxes to him, then he'd just fold his team and go home, with a nice $250-$300 million parting gift from MLB for his troubles. Only problem is, the Twins have never been seriously lacking for fans. They were the first major league team to draw more than 3 million fans in a season, and they've consistently drawn low-to-mid-20-thousands even in the midst of a terrible recent slump. The team challenged for the AL Central pennant in 2001 before fading after the All-Star break with young stars that will only get better -- if they still have a team to play for.

The Minnesota AG quickly got an injunction ordering the team to fulfill the terms of its lease and play the 2002 season when word of this plan leaked out after the 2001 World Series. With the delay inherent in the U.S. legal system and the MLBPA's parallel legal maneuverings, this pretty much ended Selig's hopes for a quick, quiet death for two clubs (like Major League Soccer did this week with the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny). The contraction saga will likely be a running subtext to the 2002 season, as fans of teams likely to be folded start abandoning the clubs, the MLBPA folds this in with the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, and players themselves worry about where a dispersal draft will take them.

Update 31 Dec 2002: These days, contraction looks rather unlikely. The players' union got Selig to back off on the idea for 2003 during the CBA negotiations, and MLB commenced to find some other option for the Montreal Expos for 2003. The Twins, by the way, won the AL Central Division, beat Oakland in the ALDS, then lost to eventual World Series champion Anaheim in the AL Championship Series.

A contraction is sometimes defined as an abbreviation that includes the last letter, and in this case the word 'abbreviation' is used to mean one that does not.

Where the word is pronounced as its shortened form, an apostrophe is normally used: I've you're this'll and the poetic o'er e'er. But in poetic tho' thro' the apostrophe is interpreted as indicating omitted letters: you never see these as tho. thro.. The possessive S however is not a contraction of anything.1

Where the short form is not pronounced as such, but is only a written device for the full word, usage varies. Formerly a full stop was used, as in Dr. Mr. Rd., and this is still used in written American English. From about 1900, under the influence of the Oxford English Dictionary and Fowler, British usage changed to omit the full stop in contractions but not abbreviations, so Dr Mr Rd but still Prof. Str. ref. -- this usage is followed in all books by major publishers in Britain and countries that adhere to it rather than America in style, but in less formal writing the two styles both occur.

The contraction no. or No. for numero (number) is usually an exception because it would look too ambiguous if it wasn't clearly marked.2

The newer British style is also the French style, which uses M. for Monsieur but Mme Mlle for Madame and Mademoiselle.

Formerly the apostrophe was used at the beginning of clipped words, like 'bus 'phone. This habit is probably dead by now.

In old poetic forms like smil'd it indicated that the vowel e was omitted in speech, to fit the metre. Over the course of Middle English the loss of e in this position became usual, and its preservation in poetry rare, so eventually words written like smiled were treated as monosyllables and the extra vowel had to be special marked as e.g. smilèd if the poet wanted it to be sounded for the metre.

1. It was sometimes treated as if it was a contraction of 'his', and the expression Johnes house was written John his house, these being pronounced basically alike in Middle English; but this doesn't work for feminine possessives: Dianas house can't come from her. But the apostrophe might have been introduced in this belief.

2. And this often also preserves a once more widespread habit of raising the final letter: No yr usually also with a stop underneath.

In many of the Romance languages (and also in German and other Germanic languages, contractions are often obligatory. Certainly, they don't use apostrophes like we do in English (but Romanian uses hyphens). I teach an English as a Second Language class, and a couple from Angola was trying to tell me that Portuguese has no contractions. This is, of course, ridiculous. It's just that they don't think of them as such since they are more or less completely lexicalized In English, contractions are optional in all cases, and the uses are pragmatics determined -- that is, they are used when appropriate and not used when they are not. In other languages, the usage is more or less obligatory:

In Spanish, the words de 'of' and a 'to' must make contractions with the masculine singular definite article el 'the.' So, 'of the man' and 'to the man' come out as del hombre, al hombre, never *de el hombre, a el hombre.

Portuguese is full of contractions, and forms them with many common prepositions and all of the articles: de, a, em, por + o, a, os, as, um, uma, uns, umas 'of/from, to, in/on, for' and 'the, a':

  • do cão
  • ,
  • dos cãos
  • ,
  • dum cão
  • ,
  • duns cãos
  • ,
  • ao cão
  • ,
  • aos cãos
  • ,
  • no cão
  • ,
  • nos cãos
  • ,
  • num cão
  • ,
  • nuns cãos
  • ,
  • pelo cão
  • ,
  • pelos cãos

'of the dog, of the dogs, of a dog, of some dogs, to the dog, to the dogs, on the dog, on the dogs, on a dog, on some dogs, for the dog, for the dogs.' The same paradigm works for the feminine, mesa 'table': da mesa, das mesas, duma mesa, dumas mesas, à mesa, às mesas, na mesa, nas mesas, numa mesa, numas mesas, pela mesa, pelas mesas. There are also some less obligatory contractions: d'água 'of the water.'There are also many other contractions involving prepositions and other common words, like aqui 'here'.

French also has a series of contractions involving prepositions + articles: de + le = du, de + les = des, à + le = au, à + les = aux. but it doesn't stop there in French. French forms obligatory contractions like that's its job. Singular articles, both masculine and feminine, form contractions with nouns beginning with vowels: le + orange, la + eau = l'orange, l'eau, 'the orange, the water.' Also, clitics and similar Cons.+ schwa words contract similarly: ce + est = c'est, ne + est = n'est. similarly, 'if he, if they': si + il(s) = s'il(s). In French, contractions occur all over, and they are certainly obligatory, and one of the hallmarks of the language.

In Romanian, there are some colloquial contractions, such as 'I don't have, You don't have': nu + am = nam, nu + aveţi = naveţi. But when dealing with tenses, Romanian makes use of many particles, which combine all over the place (Romanian often prefers periphrastic forms instead of Latin-like complex synthetic forms. For instance, it expresses the subjunctive with + verb, rather than a whole new form like in Spanish). For instance, in Romanian, the past is formed like in French, with 'have' + 'participle': am mers, aţi mers I/you went. But contractions appear when a reflexive is used: a se duce - to go (also) -

  • mă + am = m-am
  • te + ai = te-ai
  • se + a = s-a
  • ne + am = ne-am
  • vă + aţi = v-aţi
  • se + au = s-au
... dus: I/you/ went. These contractions are obligatory.

There are also contractions with the subjunctive particle : 'I want to see her' Vreau s-o văd = Vreau să + o văd. 'I want to see him' Vreau să-l văd = Vreau să + îl văd. Finally, 'from in' - de+în = din, 'in the (masc. & fem.):' în + un, în + o = într-un, într-o are similar to contractions in other Romance languages.

German, while not Romance, does do similar things: an dem tisch = am tisch 'on the table,' for instance. But there are also non-obligatory contractions, such as the conversational Wie geht's = Wie geht + es 'How's it going = How goes it?'

Con*trac"tion (?), n. [L. contractio: cf. F. contraction.]


The act or process of contracting, shortening, or shrinking; the state of being contracted; as, contraction of the heart, of the pupil of the eye, or of a tendion; the contraction produced by cold.

2. Math.

The process of shortening an operation.


The act of incurring or becoming subject to, as liabilities, obligation, debts, etc.; the process of becoming subject to; as, the contraction of a disease.


Something contracted or abbreviated, as a word or phrase; -- as, plenipo for plenipotentiary; crim. con. for criminal conversation, etc.

5. Gram.

The shortening of a word, or of two words, by the omission of a letter or letters, or by reducing two or more vowels or syllables to one; as, ne'er for never; can't for can not; don't for do not; it's for it is.


A marriage contract.




© Webster 1913.

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