September 2 2010

It’s could have, not could of

by Barbie in Grammar, Pet Peeves

Sometimes, the way we speak turns into the way we write, which can have dangerous consequences. When speaking, the verb phrase “could have,” or perhaps the often-spoken contraction “could’ve” can sound like “could of.” Don’t let this wording slip into your writing, however. “Could of” is not a structure that you should not use.

Do: I could have studied more for that exam.
Don’t: I could of stayed up later to study.

Note that the same rules apply to “should have/should of” and “would have/would of.”

Thanks to another Etsy grammar find for inspiration for this blog post: