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In my experience, foreign speakers are more likely to use contractions. Other languages have much clearer differentiation between formal and informal voice and as a result foreign speakers are less likely to understand the nuances that differentiate between formal and informal in the English language. To them, English is so incredibly informal compared to what theyâ€™re used to that they donâ€™t always appreciate the small differences in tone. I say this as someone who grew up outside the US and attended foreign speaking schools. If you have any doubt, go without the contractionsâ€¦
I use them in mine and don't care. The sytle and tone of the essay will come through much more on your overall language than on whether you said its or it is or whatever.
For instance, I often see people use cliches such as "I'd hit two birds with one stone", or otherwise more wordy phrases such as "They'd tossed it over the fence, and thus ... .bla bla"... brevity and conciseness often give a lot towards tone as well. Just for example.
"Having understood that various difficulties lay ahead that I would face in taking a new position, I knew that as my father had once said to me during my early childhood years "You must fight". I then knew that I had to keep pressing fowards to be able to get what I wanted to achieve. Despite many obvious obstacles and challenges, I decided to go for it. I know now that whenever I come face to face with an obstacle in my life I can tackle it and pin it to the ground with my determination."
Thats wordy and sounds very, chatty.
Compared to say,
"Faced with signficant challenges, I drew inspiration from my fathers' words: "You must fight". Nervous but undeterred, I accepted the new position. I've since realized that with determination I can suceed, even in difficult circumstances."
Basically they say the same thing, but how they read is drastically different and the number of unessecary words is dramatically reduced.
Take another example:
"I was thinking about giving each person a blackberry and Web/Internet access. For the customer, this would allow them to connect and start obtaining email right from day 1, without waiting for IT help. For us, this meant we could help the marketing employees, as well as also sell our Internet messenger to customers who need it or ask for it"
"After careful consideration, I equipped our customers with Blackberrys. This not only provided key partners with connectivity to our offices but also enabled the marketing department's use of a powerful channel with which to build our messenger brand."
Same thing, reads very differently.
What I'm trying to say is, the rest of your essay is far more likely to convey tone and style than whether I said "I've" or "I have"
I talked to my editor (she's 65 with lots of experience; actually retiring this month!) about this one and she told me the following:
Contractions are ok because they bring out the more "personal" feel to the essay. It just sounds more natural to say (and thus write) "I've" instead of "I have."
She also noticed a trend in business writing that contractions are becoming more used and actually preferred in most cases. She doesn't know, however, whether MBA application essays are considered "business writing."
Also worth mentioning: Use a contraction on "negation phrases" when you want to also soften the tone: "there wasn't" instead of "there was not." Use the latter if you want to emphasize the "not." The purpose of this is to bring out the "positives" in your writing, and lessen the "negatives."
it sounds like either is fine. I agree with rhyme that it's really the rest of the essay that will make the different. I, too, do not feel that contractions will be a make or break deal. I think this will depend on the occasion and phrase that you use it in.
Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).
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A rather old thread, but 1 critical perspective hasn't been discussed here.
Using I'll instead of I will won't make the AdCom reject you per-se, but reverted all such contractions will certainly shoot up your essays' word count a lot!! And that is probably a more critical reason to use contrations? Opinions, if any, after this long?
You should feel free to use contractions. Contractions exist for a reason. They largely make your writing more readable and impactful. Plus it can save you a few words on the word count. I highly doubt any admissions committee member will care if you use contractions. The content and cohesion of the essays are far, far more important than style choices like contractions, double spacing, etc.