“Should/could have” vs “should/could of”

One thing that fascinates me, though the result often frustrates me, is how many of our spelling errors arise from the spoken word. The phrases “should of” and “could of” are perfect examples of this.

Why “should of” and “could of” are incorrect

“Should of” and “could of”, if you break them out into their two separate words, don’t actually make any sense together. You can say “a pint of beer” or “three hours of sleep”, but “should of studied” doesn’t fit.

In this case, people say “should of” and “could of” because of the contraction that’s created from the word “have.” Really, it’s “should’ve” and “could’ve” – in other words, “should have” and “could have.” This contraction sounds very similar to “of” when spoken aloud, but “of” in this case is meaningless and incorrect.

Hope that helps!


Posted in Spelling & GrammarLanguage.