You Shouldn’t Of

Typebars in a 1920s typewriter

Language Lessons. ... Image via Wikipedia

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. It’s a fairly famous saying, and spelled according to the shorthand way

of pronouncing it. But if each of those three words is spelled (or pronounced) in its full form—as two words—do you know what the second of those two words should be?

Many people would answer “of,” as in “should of.” This is how it sounds phonetically, but it’s wrong. The correct answer is “have,” as in: “I should have thought of that.” The problem most likely lies in the fact that these two words are usually contracted into one, in which case it’s spelled “should’ve”—which sounds identical to “should of.”

It’s a common mistake, and I’ve seen even seasoned newspaper reporters make it time and time again (likely because they never bothered to read over their stories after they’d been edited, because if they had, they would’VE seen what they’d done wrong—but I digress; don’t get me started on reporters who don’t try to improve their writing!).

Class dismissed. =)

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