Should have, would have, could have – correct
Should of, would of, could of – incorrect
The error is widespread and dates back nearly 200 years. The cause? Simply that should’ve sounds identical to should of in a lot of accents. In fact, many of us hardly voice the second word at all, so it’s little wonder that we’re not quite sure how to write it.
The of version is now such a well-known error that some authors of fiction (rather snobbily) use it in dialogue to indicate a character’s lack of education. There are examples in this post on Stan Carey’s blog.
‘Shoulda woulda coulda are the last words of a fool’, sang Beverley Knight. We’re pretty sure she was talking about grammar.
To avoid being that fool, remember: you just have to use have.
More 60-second fixes:
- Spaces and units
- Affect and effect
- Bear and bare
- Compare to and compare with
- Complimentary and complementary
- Different from/to/than
- Judgement or judgment
- Lead and led
- Palate, palette and pallet
- Rein and reign
- Spelt/spelled, learnt/learned and dreamt/dreamed
- Stationary and stationery
- Substitute for/with
- 60-second quiz
20 / 02 / 12
60-second fix: learnt or learned?
Is it learnt or learned? Spelt or spelled? Dreamt or dreamed? If you’re unsure, you’re in good company, writes Cathy Relf. Neither the dictionaries nor the newspapers agree, so it’s hardly surprising that the rest of us are confused. We carried out a quick Twitter poll and found that opinions were scattered. So, let’s clean […]
15 / 10 / 11
60-second fix: bear and bare
Ah, what a wonderful language English is. You can bear a child, bear a responsibility, ask someone to bear with you, bear a heavy load or bare your teeth. Confusion arises in the verb form, especially in the past tense. In the present tense, there are two spellings: bear and bare. to bear has two […]