Contraction distractions


When you read English for fun you might see some words you cannot find in the dictionary. Some of these have apostrophes (‘). This means they may be contractions, words made shorter by missing out letters and replacing them with apostrophes.


‘Ol’‘ just means ‘old’, doesn’t it? Yes, but not in the way you might think. There is the usage of ‘old’ to mean ‘not young’ and there is also another usage of ‘old’ to mean ‘dear, having sentimental value or being familiar’. It is mainly American, common in the Southern states and is heard a lot in country music.

“This ol’ town feels like home.”

This could mean the town is old or dear to the speaker.

“Silly ol’ me. I should have gotten up earlier for school, I guess.”

The speaker here is not old but is familiar with himself or herself.


Li’l‘ is easy. It simply means ‘little’.

“This crazy li’l thing called love.”

“A li’l bird told me a secret.”

Do I Have To Learn Phrasal Verbs?


Yes, you do, eventually. If you never learn phrasal verbs there are going to be huge gaps in your vocabulary knowledge. This could cause you to be unable to express yourself properly or to misunderstand other people.

“But you could just use normal verbs, couldn’t you?”

You could in some situations but not in others. There are differences in meaning between some phrasal verbs and their non-phrasal alternatives; sometimes it is small but sometimes it is vast.

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