Should of, would of, could of. That’s just wrong. Grammar dilemmas.

Posted by | July 18, 2013 | Services, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments
I've noticed an increasing trend lately for people to write 'should of', 'would of' and 'could of' instead of 'should have', 'would have' and 'could have'. For example, 'I could of left earlier'. Now think about this for a minute. It doesn't make sense, does it? So why are people using such awfully poor grammar? And I'm not talking about children, I'm talking about adults. People with university degrees. In one case I noticed recently, by someone who writes for a living and teaches others to write. I suspect it's a case of writing down what we say.  Many of us are lazy speakers, and say 'should've', 'would've' and 'could've'.  This is fine. We are simply contracting  'should have', 'would have' and 'could have'. In fact, we could write those contractions and that would be perfectly correct, even though it may look a little odd.  However, somehow between the mouth to the page the translation gets lost and 'of' creeps in. We live in a casual world of textspeak these days, particularly on social media channels, which may explain to some degree why 'of' has replaced 'have'. After all, 'of' uses two less characters and if you're tweeting on Twitter that matters. Horrible things happen to grammar and language on social media and in text messages. Don't get me started on it! Specsavers adBut that doesn't explain or condone bad grammar creeping beyond social media and into advertising. Have a look at this ad.  Should of gone to Specsavers? Nope. Should have gone to English classes more often in school. Personally I am stunned that this grammatical blooper made it into print; what sort of ad agency would let this one through? Not one that I'd consider using, that's for sure. Oh, and let's add 'must of' to the list too. How many of you use 'must of' when you should be using 'must have'? Think carefully when you write. Using bad grammar such as 'should of', 'would of', 'could of''  and 'must of' may cause your readers form a bad perception of your writing ability and education. In particular, make sure you carefully proofread any correspondence you send to your boss! If you need help with writing, or want your work proofread before it goes to the wider world, do contact our Racontoozy team of writers.


  • Peter Davies says:

    Good article, but when you write “… ‘of’ uses two less characters…” you should have written “two fewer characters”.

    • Sabrina says:

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you – you are correct and I am remiss. I ‘should of’ proof read my post one more time before going live. Thanks for reading.
      Kind regards

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