EdPlace's Y1 & Y2 Home Learning English Lesson: Apostrophes in Contraction

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Get them started on the lesson below and then jump into our teacher-created activities to practice what they've learnt. We've recommended five to ensure they feel secure in their knowledge - 5-a-day helps keeps the learning loss at bay (or so we think!).

Are they keen to start practising straight away? Head to the bottom of the page to find the activities. 

Now...onto the lesson!


Key Stage 1 statutory requirement for English 
Key Stage 1 students should be able to use both familiar and new punctuation correctly, including full stops, capital letters, exclamation marks, question marks, commas for lists and apostrophes for contracted forms and the possessive


Contractions... Are You in the Know?

Children are first introduced to apostrophes in year 2. Now, if we're honest this is something that most adults can still get wrong. In this article, we'll break down the teaching of apostrophes when looking specifically at using them in contractions.  What's a contraction we hear you ask? We've used four so far in this paragraph alone, which suggests they're a pretty regular occurrence in everyday speech and writing. Follow these easy steps to help you understanding and in turn, help to develop your child’s skills in grammar.

We're sure that if you follow this article through, both you and your child will feel more confident when it comes to:

1) Understand what a contraction is

2) Explain why we use an apostrophe when writing them

3) Apply this skill by correctly punctuated contractions within their writing


Step 1 - Learning the Lingo!

Before we get started it is important that both you and your child understand the terminology that is used when teaching grammar.

The apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to show either possession or to show contraction. You can explain to your child that it looks like a comma that sits up at the top, rather than on the line. Try to find examples in children’s books to show them.

Contractions are used every day by those speaking the English language. They're two words that have been put together to shorten the word, but the meaning stays the same. 

For example:

1) do not becomes don’t

2) should not becomes shouldn’t

Contractions are used a lot in everyday speech, so children will probably be familiar with most of these words but may not know where they come from or the grammatical term ‘contraction’ that is used to describe them.


Step 2 - What's the Job of an Apostrophe?

It may help to explain to your child that sometimes when we speak or write English, we can be a little bit lazy and don't always need to use words in their full form.  We find it helps to put this into a context for students in school.  Why not ask them how they would speak if they were talking to the Queen?  You can then point out that they'd talk in a different way to their friends than they would if we were talking to the Queen! It's worth emphasising the point that when talking to the Queen we'd all try to make sure to talk formally using grown-up words, however, when we talk to our friends, we can be a little lazy and shorten some words. 

Below we've listed some of the more common contractions. Make sure to show your child the words in their full form and then what we can shorten them to.

Is not = isn't

He is = he's

We are = we're 

I will = I'll

You are = you're

They are = they're

We will = we'll

Can not = can't

Did not = didn't


When you look at this list with your child, see if they can spot the pattern?  We need to use an apostrophe to show that we know there is a letter or letters missing in the word.  The apostrophe should go in place of the letter that we have removed.



is not (we remove the ‘o’)  =  isn’t

In this example, 'isn’t' is the contraction of 'is not'. The apostrophe goes in the exact place the letter is missing.

We do this to show the reader that we know the word has been shortened and that we know where the missing letter should be. The apostrophe needs to go in the exact place the omission has occurred (between the letters). If an apostrophe was placed above another letter this would be incorrect.

1) is’nt  = not correct

2) isnt’ = not correct

3) isn’t = correct

It's important to point out that in some cases we need to leave out more than one letter, but we still only use one apostrophe.


Step 3 - Recognising Contractions

Hopefully, after reading through step 1 and 2, you're both feeling happier with the concept of contractions and the job of the apostrophe within it. To help improve your child's confidence before including contractions in their writing begin by encouraging recognition.  Why not see if they can match up the original words to the contraction below?

1) she has             a) it’s

2) would not         b) I’ve

3) I have               c) she’s

4) it is                   d) wouldn’t


Building up your child’s knowledge little by little is key to developing their understanding. Try getting your child to apply what they have learnt in step 2. Challenge them to put in the apostrophe in the correct place. Remember the apostrophe should go in the exact place the letter/letters are missing.


1) dont

2) wouldve

3) hasnt

4) hows 


Step 4 - Putting it All Into Practice!

It can seem like there's a lot to remember. Make sure your child knows the contraction in its full form, often referred to as the expanded form. Try using both versions of the words when talking to them about it. Point them out in books and discuss what either the expanded form or contraction could be.

Why not try putting this into practice? Sometimes it makes more sense once you have tried it yourself.


Try writing out the sentence below using the contracted word (the shortened version)

  1. Tomorrow, we are going to the park.

  2. I have got a scooter.

  3. Lucy is clever and she is kind.

  4. Where is the party going to be?

Top tip: A common mistake occurs when students write 'could have' as a contraction. Children often write could of instead of the contraction could’ve. Explain to your child that although they may sound similar a contraction is when we put two words together to make one. We do not add letters or words that were not there to begin with.


Step 5 - Let's Give This a Go!

Grammar, to most of us as adults, is second nature! We know what is correct... we just don’t remember why. The best thing to do when it comes to teaching your child grammar is to keep practising. The more familiar they become with a skill the more likely it is they will apply it to their own work.

Why not now use the skills your child has learnt and look at these activities below? Each one will put your child’s skills into practice. Try them in this order and remember to have fun!

All activities are created by teachers and automatically marked. Plus, with an EdPlace subscription, we can automatically progress your child at a level that's right for them. Sending you progress reports along the way so you can track and measure progress, together - brilliant! 


Activity 1: Making Words Shorter: Using Apostrophes 1

Activity 2: Making Words Shorter: Using Apostrophes 2

Activity 3: Making Words Shorter: Using Apostrophes 3

Activity 4: Know Your Contractions: doesn't and don't

Activity 5: Know Your Apostrophes: Possession and Contraction




1) Tomorrow, we’re going to the park.

2) I’ve got a scooter.

3) Lucy is clever and she’s kind.

4) Where’s the party going to be?


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