Should Of, Would Of, and Could Of

Our Story

Should Of, Would Of, and Could Of

The phrases "should of," "would of," and "could of" are always wrong. Worse. They are viewed as grammatical howlers. In other words, 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.

This error is currently listed as the fourth worst writing mistake in our list of common grammar errors.

would of, could of, and shouldof

More about Should Of, Would Of, and Could Of

The phrases "should of," "would of," and "could of" are incorrect expansions of the contractions "should've," "would've," and "could've." The "'ve" part is incorrectly expanded to "of" because of how it is pronounced. Of course, the correct expansions of these phrases are "should have," "would have," and "could have."

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

Here are some examples with "should of," "would of," and "could of" expanded correctly:
  • I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
  • I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have. (Polymath Leonardo da Vinci)
Here are some examples with "should of," "would of," and "could of" expanded incorrectly:
  • Had I become a priest, the sermons would of been electric!
  • I loved what I did. I could of been secretary of state forever.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What are contractions? Using apostrophes More on abbreviations