Should of, Would of, Could of

Should of, Would of, Could of — is it of or have?

The use of should of, would of, could of (and even will of) in written English seems to be on the increase.

These errors appear to stem from the fact that the contractions would’ve, should’ve and could’ve sound like would of, should of and could of. The use of the word of in these cases is incorrect according to current English usage.

A quick Google search will show that the use of these incorrect phrases is quite common. Some linguists speculate that these uses will in time become so common that they will be officially accepted as Standard English. However, the vast majority of people currently consider these phrases to be grave errors.

When writing, we recommend taking care to use the correct form.

The STAR Team

Source: Oxford English Dictionary

4 replies
  1. damien martin
    damien martin says:

    Is it not the case that many changes happen by virtue of use which are not clearly wrong but that create a subtly different meaning? I would argue that “meet with” is intended to indicate time taken with x or y, rather than just passing by, which could be covered by simply “meet”.

  2. Geoffrey Ainsworth
    Geoffrey Ainsworth says:

    Geraldine O’Sullivan is right on the mark with her comment and so too is Neil McLeodon – I am led to the inevitable conclusion that the seemingly increasing use of these and other grammatical ‘strangulations’ is a result of ignorance and indifference.

    The English language has a history of change through usage – and to my mind that is entirely legitimate – but let’s not disguise such abuse with development. In too many cases I am also discerning too many errors both in correct spelling and, sad to say, in punctuation too. But don’t get me started on that…

  3. Neil McLeod
    Neil McLeod says:

    I agree completely with Geraldine O’Sullivan’s comment. ‘Would of’, ‘could of’ and ‘should of’ make no sense and are just lazy. To keep the pot boiling I would venture another increasingly common error and that is ‘meet with’ when what the person actually means is plain straightforward ‘meet’. One hears it time and time again nowadays: ‘I met with John the other day’. It makes no logical sense and begs the question ‘met him with whom?’

    How do we stop this illogical mangling – as opposed to change through usage – of the English language?

  4. Geraldine O'Sullivan
    Geraldine O'Sullivan says:

    These ARE grave errors and are not merely incorrect but in fact make no logical sense at all.
    A related incorrect usage at least in Ireland is “I/you had have gone (had of gone??)” by analogy with “I would have gone” instead of simply “I had gone”.
    Ungrammatical colloquialisms are a fact of life but should be recognised as such so that they do not find their way into the standard written language.

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