(Sittin’ on) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding (Understanding Contractions)

Contractions in English: I can’t, I won’t , I wanna etc…



written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper

lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, just three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin.

#1 for 4 weeks in 1968

Exercise 1: Read the Theory part below.


Exercise 2.

Use YouTube to listen to the song and identify as many contractions as possible. Fill in the blanks below.


Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun

I’ll be _________ when the _______ come

Watching the ships roll in

And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah


I’m ________ on the dock of the bay

Watching the tide roll away

Ooo, I’m just ________ on the dock of the bay

_________ time


I left my home in Georgia

Headed for the ‘Frisco bay

‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for

And look like nothin’s __________ come my way


So I’m just _________ sit on the dock of the bay

Watching the tide roll away

Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay

_________ time


Look like nothing’s _______ change

Everything still remains the same

I can’t do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes


Sittin’ here resting my bones

And this loneliness won’t leave me alone

It’s two thousand miles I roamed

Just to make this dock my home


Now, I’m just ________ sit at the dock of the bay

Watching the tide roll away

Oooo-wee, _________ on the dock of the bay

Wastin’ time




Exercise 3:

Use the internet to identify 10 different examples of contractions, in songs, in BBC news reports, in films, on the radio etc. Write them down and try to understand their contexts and bring them into class for discussion.
























Exercise 4:


Example: (I am) I’m happy.


1) (I will) …………….     see you at English class next week.


2) Is there milk in the refrigerator? Yes, (there is) …………….. milk in the refrigerator.


3) Shhh…(There will) …………… be time to talk later.


4) (It is) ………… raining outside.


5) (George is) ……………. going to the football game. (He will) ………… be there at 7:30.


6) (I am) …………. not at home right now.


7) (Who is) …………. Mary? (Mary is) ………….. my best friend.


8) (Donald is) …………. good at tennis.


9) (We will) ……………. be home at ten (of the clock) .


10) (What would) ……………. make you upset? (I would)…………… be upset if you stole my money.






Words in English when spoken quickly or sung sometimes contain contractions.


“Rocking” becomes “rockin´” – For example – “Rockin´ all over the world”

This usually occurs when the word ends with “ing” and the word contracts to “ sittin` ” or  “wastin` “.


Common contractions in songs are also…


I´m gonna –

I wanna –

I gotta –

I coulda –

I shoulda –


What do you think they mean?


Also – pronouns can collopse into the verb.

For example – I watch ’em roll away again ( I watch them )




How do we write contractions?

In order to form a contraction, the letter or letters that are removed from the word must be replaced by an apostrophe. For example, to turn the words he is into a contraction, we must remove the i and replace it with an apostrophe to form he’s.


are not = aren’t

cannot = can’t

could not =couldn’t

did not = didn’t

do not = don’t

does not = doesn’t

had not = hadn’t

have not = haven’t

he is  = he’s

he has = he’s

he will = he’ll

he would = he’d

he had = he’d

here is = here’s

I am = I’m

I have = I’ve

I will = I’ll

I would = I’d

I had = I’d


is not = isn’t

it is = it’s

it has = it’s

it will = it’ll

must not = mustn’t

she is = she’s

she has = she’s

she will = she’ll

she would = she’d

she had = she’d

should not = shouldn’t

that is = that’s

there is = there’s

they are = they’re

they have = they’ve

they will = they’ll

they would = they’d

they had = they’d

was not = wasn’t


we are = we’re

we have = we’ve

we will = we’ll

we would  = we’d

we had = we’d

were not = weren’t

what is = what’s

where is = where’s

who is = who’s

who will = who’ll

*will not = won’t (irregular)

would not = wouldn’t

you are = you’re

you have = you’ve

you will = you’ll

you would = you’d

you had = you’d








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Justin Donlon

English Teacher & Content Developer

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