Should Of or Should Have?

by Craig Shrives

This Page Includes...

"Should of" is always wrong.

Writing "should of" instead of "should've" or "should have" is a serious error. It is the same deal with "would of" and "could of."

If you write "should of," "would of," or "could of" even once, your credibility will take a dive. If you do it more than once, you're toast.

Click to hear the difference between "should of" and "should've":
would of, could of, and shouldof

More about Should Of, Would Of, and Could Of

"Should of," "would of," and "could of" are incorrect expansions of the contractions "should've," "would've," and "could've." This error occurs because "should've" sounds a bit like "should of," etc. Of course, the correct expansions are "should have," "would have," and "could have."

Examples of Should've, Would've, and Could've

Here are some examples with "should have" used correctly:
  • I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
  • (The original had "should've.")
  • I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have. (Polymath Leonardo da Vinci)
  • (The original translation had "should have.")
Here are some wrong examples with "would of" and "could of":
  • Had I become a priest, the sermons would of been electric!
  • I loved what I did. I could of been secretary of state forever.

Is Should Of Always Wrong?

It is possible to write a correct sentence with "should of," but this is never an expansion of "should've." For example:
  • Should of be capitalized in a title?
  • (If you've found this page by asking this question, the answer is no under the title case style.)

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

What are contractions? Using apostrophes More on abbreviations

Page URL