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Could of, would of, should of - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Could have and could of - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Color me Cubbies fan. I’ve waved baseball pennants and chanted “Coulda-woulda-shoulda!” and “Maybe next year!” with the Windy City diehards at Wrigley Field more times than I can count.

But it’s not really correct.

Repeat after me:

could have
should have
will have
would have

By George, I think we have it. (See? I didn’t say “got.” But that’s another post for another day.)

Consider Adele, in her mega-hit, “Rolling In The Deep.” That’s right. “We could have had it all.” After all, would you rather “have it” or “of it”?

Anything goes, in written dialogue.

A scriptwriter might choose for a character to say, “He could of been here on time. I should of known better than to trust the likes of him. I would of never given him a second glance, if I’d of had any idea. By the time my phone rings again, I will of learned my lesson.”

Ouch! My ears are burning, and I’m not even reading aloud. How about yours? And what does this language tell us about the speaker?

Misused word pair
Created by this user
At CoolText
 Abused and misused word graphics
adapted from public domain artwork

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  1. Just stopping by to say "hi" from the A-Z Challenge list :)

    Great theme for the challenge honey, good luck with it!


  2. Thanks for these tips-- writers need reminders from time to time.

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  3. Interesting that my brain heard "'ve" when reading "of". Awareness is everything ;-)

  4. Great theme for the A-Z challenge. I love misusing grammar to create authentic-sounding dialogue but (being a former English teacher) hate to see its misuse everywhere else. These short, pertinent reminders are therefore great. :)

  5. I recently "spanked" an MSNBC reporter via Twitter for publishing an article online where he used the term "could of". I was so shocked and dismayed that a trained journalist could have made such a stupid mistake.

  6. That's another error that makes me cringe!

  7. I hate this usage! Thanks for pointing it out!

  8. I always type "could have," but say "could of." I need to break that habit. :/

  9. I think 'of' is used when speaking because of the contraction of have ('ve); they sound similar. But it does make my eyes bleed when I see it written. I don't know why people do it. It doesn't make any sense!!

  10. I'm guilty of that on occasion when I write, but that's what edits are for.:) I don't find that I do it when I speak though. Weird.


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