🏁 Whenever you add n’t to a word, don’t forget the apostrophe between the n and the t, for example:

I do not.. becomes I don’t..

You cannot do that! becomes You can’t do that!

and, unusually,

I will not.. becomes I won’t..

🔆 So this is really one of the easier ones to learn. If you’ve got it, go to Skill 14.

Doesn’t it look like a work of art?

🛠 If you need more practise, read on.

🎯 📝 Try writing out the paragraph below, putting all the apostrophes back in:

There are lots of things in life I shouldnt be doing. I wouldnt complain, but I dont think people get it. I wont go on about it, but cant you see that it’s my life? I couldnt just do what people tell me. I havent got that outlook. I prefer to do things my way. I cant just do as I’m told.

✅ There are lots of things in life I shouldn’t  be doing. I wouldn’t  complain, but I don’t  think people get it. I won’t  go on about it, but can’t  you see that it’s my life? I couldn’t  just do what people tell me. I haven’t  got that outlook. I prefer to do things my way. I can’t  just do as I’m told.

🚦 Got time for more?

When we put the word ‘not’ in a sentence, for example, ‘I should not go to the match today,’ we can shorten it to say,  ‘I shouldn’t go to the match today.’ The apostrophe goes between the n and the t. Think of it as an arrow pointing out to everyone that you know where the missing ‘o’ letter should have gone. Lots of people make the mistake of writing something like should’nt, which is just wrong, but once you know the rule it’s easy to avoid.

With lots of words we can add ‘not’ to, it’s easy. Learning the rule about where the apostrophe goes helps you write shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, don’t and so on.

Problems often come though when we have some more unusual combinations of a word with ‘not.’ The main one is ‘will not.’ This becomes ‘I won’t,‘ which doesn’t really follow any normal rules, so you just have to learn it.

Another problem one for some people is saying, ‘I cannot,’ which becomes ‘I can’t,’ so it loses more letters than you’d think.

🎓 These apostrophes, to show something is being missed out, are called omissive apostrophes. Because the effect is to shorten words, they are also known as contracting apostrophes– but they’re the same thing. A really unusual problem one is saying ‘I shall not,’ which is a really formal way to say ‘I won’t,’ and we don’t usually use that in normal English; just as well really, as it becomes ‘I shan’t’!

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