Grammar-ease: “Should have” vs “Should of”

This is a quick grammar post.

It’s simple: “should have” and its contraction “should’ve” are correct.  As are “would have” (would’ve) and “could have” (could’ve).


Incorrect: “should of”; “could of”; “would of”; “shoulda”; “woulda”; “coulda”

  • I should have (should’ve) left earlier to avoid traffic.
  • He could have (could’ve) told her he was on his way so she wouldn’t leave.
  • She would have (would’ve) brought a snack if she knew there was no food.
  • I could’ve won that race if I had trained more!
  • He should’ve had a V-8 for breakfast instead of a donut.
  • She would’ve gone to the movies if she didn’t have to work.


Happy writing!

What other grammar topics or tips would you like to see?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

23 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: “Should have” vs “Should of”

  1. It’s the pronunciation and local accent contractions that create the confusion. These are mistakes people who go through the ESL mill wouldn’t normally make, as they learn the long form before learning the contractions 🙂

  2. I would reserve these contractions for dialogue. They might be ‘correct’ but are useful to reveal more about the speaker in conversation.

  3. Thanks for continuing to draw attention to mistakes that can creep in, Lisa. I would appreciate help with the correct use of: toward/towards, laying/lying and using plural and possessive on surnames ending with “s” such as Thomas.

  4. Sh/w/could of is one of those don’t-get-me-started topics. My Boss says “should of”! Other supposedly literate people say “should of”. I’m embarrassed for them. And I don’t know how it started. It seems to be a recent development… if that’s a suitable word.
    However, sh/w/coulda is probably acceptable in written dialogue to emphasise a lazy speaker. It’s fairly common here in Australia to here that sort of thing especially in normal conversation. It’s part of the larrakin Aussie way!

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