Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Avoiding contractions in the PS?  (Read 2923 times)

CrnchyCereal

  • Guest
Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« on: October 21, 2007, 02:49:25 PM »
I was always taught that one shouldn't use contractions in formal writing (i.e. papers), but does that rule also apply to something like the personal statement?  If I recall correctly, I also avoided using contractions in my college PS, but the writing just seems a little dry and stilted at times when I never use a contraction...thoughts?

California_RedRaider

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 248
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2007, 03:12:45 PM »
Generally you shouldn't have contractions in a formal essay. Thus a law school PS would fit in the same category. But there are some contractions that are okay and acceptable and as you stated, helps the piece flow and become less stagnant.

You just have to look at your paper and see if having a contraction will look unprofessional or will help the paper flow more. Just use your own personal judgment while keeping in mind that generally contractions are a big no no.. .:)

ghil04

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 457
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2007, 01:09:46 AM »
I highly disagree with RedRaider.  A personal statement is not a formal piece of writing; it is meant to showcase who you are as an individual.  If the goal is to make a personal connection with the reader, then certainly, you should feel free to write in whichever style personally suits you.

Keep in mind, guys, that this is not the time for conformity and professionalism.  There's no reason why anybody should be making stylistic deviations (i.e. - no contractions) for the sake of following some rigid code of professional writing. 

t L

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2201
    • View Profile
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2007, 05:04:25 PM »
I would use contractions.
Michigan 2L

Freak

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 4899
  • What's your agenda?!
    • AOL Instant Messenger - smileyill4663
    • Yahoo Instant Messenger - smileyill
    • View Profile
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2007, 05:29:29 PM »
Avoid them:
1. Avoid words that require them in the first place - don't, that's, I'm, you're etc.
2. Choose better words - "I enjoy" (positives, instead of negatives) & avoid "be" verbs period because either
    A. They are passive (like the preceding phrase) or
    B. More precise words exist (I am sick = I feel sick, hungry, tired, sleepy etc).
Freak is the best, Freak is the best!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I don't like calling you Freak, I'd rather call you  Normal Nice Guy.

qt314

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1400
  • pi = 3.14, k?
    • View Profile
    • bluewords
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2007, 02:38:55 AM »
It's a personal statement. Make it intelligently conversational. Show them your winsome, articulate, contraction-able self.

NYU Class of 2011!

gowi

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 615
  • Emory '11
    • View Profile
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2007, 09:23:43 AM »
I am avidly against contractions in a formal essay. That said, I just read an essay that managed to keep an informal tone throughout the PS, the tone fit the topic well, and it was not at all awkward. The contractions in it improved the essay. They did not detract from the point like they would in a formal essay.

Signal

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 262
    • View Profile
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2007, 09:31:11 AM »
I avoid contractions in formal writing, with the exception of dialogue. I think it sounds unnatural and stilted to avoid contractions in quotations.

Sra

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2007, 06:03:17 PM »
Check out Bryan A Garner's "Legal Writing in Plain English" for great tips on how to write well generally, and specifically in the field of law. Garner likes contractions because they sound less stilted and forced than the uncontracted counterparts can sound.

Also, let me point out there is nothing inherently wrong with contractions. In French, contracted forms are generally preferred, for instance.

As for formality, some contractions are less formal than others. The main point, I think, is to try to not draw attention to the words you are using. You want your reader to focus on your meaning instead. Sometimes not contracting can draw too much attention to the language. Do you not understand what I mean?

ě

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 4603
  • non sequitur
    • View Profile
Re: Avoiding contractions in the PS?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2007, 07:53:17 AM »
No contractions in formal writing. Ever.

This is the most formal thing you will write this year.