Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

“would of” instead of “would have” or “would’ve”

The phrase “would of” seems to be coming more and more common. I have heard it used in a number of films and have also seen it used in print when the author is depicting direct speech. However, I was amazed to see it used outside of the direct speech context in a novel I am currently reading. I appreciate that “would’ve” could be heard as “would of” but the increasing use of this phrase is damning testimony to the malaise that afflicts our language.

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but your use of the double preposition OUTSIDE OF is grammatically incorrect too

user109949 Jan-25-2021

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“would of “ does nothing but illustrate stupidity of the writer.

user109508 Dec-25-2020

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So what is the mark ' called?

user109171 Sep-13-2020

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So what is the mark before the v called

user109171 Sep-13-2020

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As someone who learnt english as a second language, I find it very ironic how I know it doesn't make any sense, but native speakers just don't. I read it and was like "wait, that doesn't make any sense", and had to look it up to confirm it, because the person was a native speaker so no way that i immidiatelly notice it, but they type it like nothing's wrong. The difference is that native speakers learn the language from hearing it, while people like me learn it from books, designed for correct grammar. The word "would've" sounds like "would of", and native speakers confuse it at a young age, and probably grow up with it nobody telling them that they are wrong. This is not the first case when ignorant people change the meaning of a word, and expect me to just change it in my head too, and I am the one who gets talked down for pointing it out. All it would take for them is to take one look and realise that that's not what "of" means, but some people are just too stubborn or lazy. Every time I read it i hear "Oh, you spent 10 years learning our language? Well, too bad! See this word right here? You know what it means, don't you? You've studied it for 10 years after all! You might as well throw that knowledge out of the window (or should I say "out HAVE the window"?), because it has a completely different meaning now! You see, we can just change the language and you can't do anything about it. We are the majority, and we are the native speakers. Grammar doesn't exist anymore. We are the grammar!". All the effort I put into learning grammar and it doesn't mean anything, because people can just get away without studying grammar at all. It's easy to use the excuse that the language is naturally changing, but it isn't. It isn't changing untill it is changing in grammar books. In my experience, if your english is "native speaker" level, it would mean that you can speak fluently, but your grammar is horrible. This also makes every native speaker look bad in general.

user108815 Apr-22-2020

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I stumble over it more and more often, using tumblr. As a non-native speaker it's really annoying. Because we wade into the deep waters of english internet communications to strengthen our language skills. But while I understand that nobody outside of English class speaks Oxford English, I noticed that nowadays it is pretty unlikely to keep your English on an acceptable level for job applications using the internet. Most English and American tumblr bloggers, Goodreads reviewers and Facebook users seem to be worse in writing English than I am. And even though my college ranked me as 'native speaker level' I simply do not understand what they are trying to tell me. While I can communicate with French, Russian and Indian citizens (and mostly Brits as well) in English, especially writing with Americans becomes more and more difficult. Even though I read novels in English and watch most TV shows in original version as well.
So while all those little quirks might seem like natural language evolution to those who use them, they are making it harder to communicate. In a time when English is spoken (or at least written) by almost everyone on the planet and the internet brings us all together, those people segregate themselves again.

Taaya Mar-17-2018

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People use it a lot it hurts!
a sarcastic example would be by singing:
" Would OF " the red nosed reindeer

Elie May-02-2016

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Yeah, saying would've sounds like "would of", but when people TYPE "would of", it drives me nuts. Are our schools not teaching English basics anymore?

Scott N Aug-05-2014

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@Brus - for various reasons, it's possible that some native speakers don't get that much teaching in verb tenses and their construction - this comes so naturally in spoken language that it might have been thought unnecessary to concentrate on (I'm only surmising, not defending). Which has led some native speakers to write modal perfect constructions exactly as they hear them.

But I have never seen a foreign learner make this mistake, because they have to learn the way these verb forms are constructed to be able to use them. It's the same with the confusion in the spelling of 'your' and 'you're' and 'their', 'they're' and 'there' - these kinds of mistakes are almost exclusively made by native speakers. I'd suggest that most foreign learners who are following coursed of Upper-intermediate level and above, know rather more about the theory of English grammar than native speakers. And for many native speakers of English, their own understanding of grammar structures comes when learning a foreign language.

I hope that last 'spot the error' bit was just your little joke, as of course the 've in I've (/v/) is pronounced completely differently from the 've in would've, could've etc (/əv/), the latter being pronounced exactly the same way as unstressed 'of', hence the confusion.

Warsaw Will May-30-2014

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Love twif twaf. Must use the term when the chance comes up.

As a teacher, it was common to see it in the work of children aged about ten, but a couple of minutes' explanation sorted it out. Now, how come it is encountered in adults' written work? If the adult in question was educated in the medium of English, did he or she have a teacher, and if so, how could this dreadful boob have been allowed to continue? Was the teacher literate, at all? If English is a second language, then treating 'of' as a verb suggests a poor grasp of elementary grammar, but recognising that it is not correct is one thing, to say it is 'accepted' or 'it's okay, whatever, yah' would suggest the wrong attitude, really, now, would it not!?

" I of got a terrible headache after reading all this stuff tonight." (Spot the error!)

Brus May-29-2014

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Travesty!? Abomination!? are you lot taking the piss? have you any idea of the actual travesties that are going on in the world and your complaining about grammer in the inglish language?? you all need to grow up a little bit... language is an evolving thing just let it happen... as if ye woold still want to be speeking in olde english.

Actually I rather like old english. You sir are an scoundrel who enjoys nonsense and twif twaf.

Byyy the way, yes I was putting spelling and grammatical errors in to annoy u.

chris-124356 May-28-2014

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To suggest that people use "would of" instead of "would have" is absolutely nothing to do with having a non-native English teacher: so far every time I have encountered this abomination it has been committed by a native speaker of English. And it is not an equal "spelling mistake" to something like 'their' for 'they're' or suchlike: it simply shows an incredible degree of poor language command on the part of the writer for all of those cases. And confusing of with have is the most awful example of this lack of basic language command yet. I teach 12-year-olds who learn English as a foreign language who understand the difference between a preposition and a verb.


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Apparently it's not only American. I'm Australian and I use it. Until a few days ago, when someone at work pointed it out to me, I had no idea it should be "have" and not "of". I still find it weird to use "have" in some contexts, such as "would have had"; it sounds a bit redundant. In my mind it should be "would of had". I guess old habits die hard; 30+ years of using "would of/could of/should of" took it's toll on me. The weird part is, I tend to say "You shouldn't of have" when I mean "You shouldn't have", because the "have" part is new, and the "of" part is always there for me... LOL. Leaving it out would feel like something is missing.

Rachel_AU Aug-16-2013

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Let me give you all a perspective from an EFL teacher in Rio, Brazil, where PORTUGUESE (NOT Spanish) is spoken.
Students of English in Brazil, students who learn English as a second language, who most of the time learn oral and written English (grammar) separately (because they make more sense this way), would never make such a mistake. Foreign students of English are not naturally familiar with the English Phonetic system, therefore, the FULL form "WOULD HAVE" is always seen before the contracted form "WOULD'VE", leaving no room for misunderstanding of its spelling or, for that matter, oral pronunciation.

Hélcio Fernandes Jul-21-2013

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This error really shows poor basic education when done by a native speaker.
A normally educated native speaker should be able to distinguish between "have" and "of" even though both may sound similar when contracted in spoken English.

It's a different story for non-native speakers. But they often know even better because they've gone through their fair bit of studying grammar.

Steve5 Jun-09-2013

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I was really disappointed that House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski utilizes "would of" instead of the correct "would have," as well--takes the book down a few notches, unfortunately

A.Hill May-16-2013

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@Carl - as this excellent post by linguist Stan Carey at Sentence First shows, it is fairly ubiquitous.

But comments about it seem to come mainly from the States, and it has even appeared in an advertisement in the New York Times Magazine - "Our Store Hours Were Stated Incorrectly And Should Of Read ...". (quoted in Merriam Webster Dictionary of English Usage)

Warsaw Will Feb-23-2013

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I wonder, regarding the use of 'would of', if it is more used in certain countries or if it is equally spread over the English speaking countries? My first thought was that this must be an Australian English dialect... Does it occurr also in England and in the USA?

Carl Feb-22-2013

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My original comment still stands. "Would Have" makes grammatical sense. "Would Of" makes no sense whatsoever. Above all, language should make sense, it should convey a thought.

And 6x16 is 96. I did confirm that with a calculator (why not?) but I first computed it in my "grammar head".

Paulytical Feb-19-2013

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I would certainly like to see the conjugation of the verb "to of".

I thought this was solely a usage in the UK, where all teaching of grammar ceased about 30/40 years ago. However, I recently found an American using "would of", "could of".

John Gibson Feb-19-2013

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all the people i know that are grammar heads, still need a calculator to multiply 6 x 16. If G'day and C'mon are accepted in the English language why not "would of" especially with the vast range of English speaking accents, it is getting harder to set English spelling or grammar as written in the Queens English. you only have to look at the USA and it raping of the English language. And with that now being the dominant culture you are more likely to see the Americanized version instead of the Americanised version.

forby Feb-19-2013

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This just makes me nuts. Words have meanings, and WRITTEN words should not beg excuses for contemporary speech.

"Would Of" doesn't MEAN anything. It is senseless!
"Would Have" makes perfect sense.

"Of" does not equal "Have", and regardless of how it sounds in contemporary speech, the distinction must be maintained in written English.

Paulytical Jan-17-2013

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Here is an instance where "would of" is used correctly! Of course, it can only occur where correct punctuation has been used.

Vincenzo Jan-13-2013

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Heck, I'm a foreigner and it ruffles my feathers when I see the abomination that is "would of". What surprises me though is that more often than not it's natives who use it..? And I can't really blame that on homophony because I'm fairly certain everybody who was ever taught English in school learned that "would've" results from abbreviating "would have". Misspelling "definitely" is excusable but not fundamental things like that. That's simply slaughtering the language.

In fact, it's rather funny. Homophonous words are spelled completely differently whereas homophonous-looking words sound nothing alike. Like deaf and leaf. Or couch and touch. It's my personal banana skin. Compared to other languages, English pronunciation is all over the place (no offense).

Arsen Jun-21-2012

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Ignore last line of previous comment.
Forgot to clear before posting.

user106928 Jan-11-2012

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@mrcaleb @JJMBallantyne

To a degree you are both right and wrong.
Although laziness, the eccentricities of the language, and societal demographics are all factors, my feeling is that it's more a case of "don't give a toss".
"I spiks how I spiks, an I will ware my cap front to back if I chooses. So chill bro. You feel me?"
As for morphingRather than laziness and p I wouldcorrect and yet

user106928 Jan-11-2012

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"I think this goes right along with improper uses of 'your' and 'there.' It boils down to laziness of children in school."

Nonsense. When someone writes "your" for "you're", it's simply a spelling mistake based on their uncertainty with homophonous words. Being a poor speller is hardly an indication of laziness.

Given the eccentricities of our English spelling system, mistakes like this are not surprising.

Our written language almost invites such misspellings.

JJMBallantyne Jan-11-2012

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I think this goes right along with improper uses of "your" and "there." It boils down to laziness of children in school. Just look at the terrible grammar used in some graffiti.
Also, words like thee and thou are no longer common in English usage. I believe that English will continue to morph along with societal demographics. If you don't like it, welcome to Earth.

mrcaleb Dec-19-2011

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Perfect Pedant: I believe that JJMBallantyne was using 'ov' to describe a verbal pronunciation rather than a written word.

Jor: The words would've could've and should've are contractions of would have could have and should have. There is no usage in which would of would ever be correct (at least none that I can think of, and even if there were, I assure you that it would not be the meaning intended by these visually offensive occurrences we come across). the ending 've represents have, not of, and can't be used for point've view. That's just nonsense. I have never seen a separate context which you mention for would of - I have only encountered it where it should be would have.

Hacovo Nov-30-2011

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As others have stated, in spoken form, this is just a minor variation on "would've" etc. Unfortunately, it seems that too many people fail to recognize that that is not "would of" so they write it that way.

In informal use, or when reflecting the conversational form, I tend to write it "woulda" which is closer to what I hear spoken.

Bob Sheidler Nov-19-2011

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Please don't get me started on the misuse of apostrophes.
My brain might explode.

user106928 Nov-08-2011

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While I certainly enjoy the comment referring to the 'damning testimony of the malaise that afflicts our language', this is an artefact of natural language change, even if it is heading towards what could be seen pernicious homophony. The fact remains that these are used in separate contexts, and as such these forms would never actually be confused. Equally "would of" mimics the process of adding a vowel between the sounds /d/ and /v/, a vowel whose height and quality borrows from the /ʊ/ in the preceding word. Further, to my great dismay, it allows people to not use apostrophes (perhaps heading towards a place where the the apostrophe means possession, such as in the great confusion between "it's" and "its" ) It is actually quite justifiable, from a literacy point of view. (point've view?)
Confusing language and literacy (or orthographic convention) is easy to do but very problematic. If we are to judge English based on its orthography, we are long since damned.
Still, I agree, and it drives me crazy when I see it.

Jor Nov-08-2011

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"Never seen the 'ov' form, but 'would ov' is no more correct than 'would of'."

I should've (ha!) pointed out that "ov" is not meant to be used as a substitute word for either "'ve" or "of" in written English but merely as a descriptive term for this particular usage.

JJMBallantyne Nov-08-2011

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Never seen the "ov" form, but "would ov" is no more correct than "would of".

user106928 Nov-07-2011

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"The Coffin Dancer" by Jeffery Deaver.
(Whose father, like Roald Dahl's, couldn't spell.) ;)

user106928 Nov-07-2011

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"Would of, should of, could of" ... Outside of the slangy idiomatic saying, you're right ... even then it could still be written "would've, should've, could've" or I'd take "would'av(e), should'av(e), could'av(e)".

While I don't mind a little free-spelling ... I do it often enuff. I'm not sure that putting the preposition 'of' in place of the verb 'have' shows a lack of knowledge, a lack of caring, a lack of editing, or what.

What's the name of the novel?

AnWulf Nov-07-2011

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The "ov" form has been around for quite a while. It's actually a fairly natural phonetic evolution of the truncated "uhv" sound you get in (for example) "would've".

I wouldn't worry about it myself.

However, when written as "of" (eg, "would of"), it's a spelling mistake. Unless, as you point out, the writer has done it quite deliberately to depict direct speech.

Though even there, I'm not sure why "would've" couldn't achieve the same result.

JJMBallantyne Nov-07-2011

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