One of my main bug bears in life is the use of the word ‘of’ where it should be ‘have’. This misuse of language makes me ragey when I hear it in speech but beyond ragey when I see it written down. IT’S JUST WRONG!
Now, I’m not perfect in my speech or my writing but ‘should of’, ‘could of’ and ‘would of’ just don’t make any sense!
For example, ‘could have’ is a phrase that refers to something that might have happened in the past but didn’t.
Eg: We could have gone to the beach last Thursday but it rained.
In informal speech the ‘could have’ would often be shortened to the contraction ‘could’ve’.
Eg: We could’ve gone to the beach last Thursday but it rained.
The phrase ‘could have’ is NEVER interchangable with ‘could of’. The only time ‘could of’ is acceptable is when the word ‘could’ is followed by another phrase starting with the word ‘of’.
Eg: We could, of course, have just taken umbrellas.
The contractions ‘should’ve’, ‘could’ve’ and ‘would’ve’ do not involve the word ‘of’, even if they sound similar in speech. This isn’t a new mistake – apparently the earliest recording of ‘of’ being used instead of ‘have/’ve’ is from 1837 – the fact that it has been around for hundreds of years doesn’t make it any less infuriating though!