As a copy editor, it`s important to understand and recognize legal contractions. Legal writing can be complex and dense, and the use of contractions can make the language more approachable and easier to understand for everyday readers. However, in legal writing, the use of contractions is not always appropriate and can lead to ambiguity or confusion. So, what is a legal contraction, and when should they be used?

A legal contraction is a shortened version of a word or phrase commonly used in legal writing. In general, contractions are used to reduce the length of a sentence and make it easier to read. Examples of legal contractions include:

– “shouldn`t” (should not)

– “can`t” (cannot)

– “won`t” (will not)

– “isn`t” (is not)

– “didn`t” (did not)

In legal writing, contractions are generally not used in formal documents such as contracts, pleadings, or other legal instruments. This is because these documents must be precise and unambiguous, and contractions can sometimes create confusion. However, in informal legal writings such as memoranda, correspondence, and other types of legal writing, contractions can be used.

To determine whether or not to use contractions in legal writing, the context and purpose of the writing must be considered. If the document is a formal legal document, it`s generally best to avoid contractions altogether. However, if the document is less formal and intended to be more accessible to everyday readers, contractions can be used appropriately.

Another consideration when using contractions in legal writing is the potential for ambiguity. For example, the contraction “shouldn`t” can be ambiguous in a legal document. Does it mean “should not” or “shall not”? In this case, it`s best to use the full phrase “should not” to avoid confusion.

In summary, legal contractions are a shortened version of a word or phrase commonly used in legal writing. While they can make a document more accessible to everyday readers, they should be used with caution and only in appropriate contexts. In formal legal documents, contractions should be avoided, while in less formal documents, they can be used appropriately. The context and potential for ambiguity must be carefully considered when using contractions in legal writing.