Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 177
    #1

    He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    Quite often I read in a post in an internet forum something like "He could of..." or "I would of..." instead of "He could have..." or "I would have...". The writers of these posts are native English speakers from Britain and I wonder why they make these mistakes. Is it to do with dialects, similar pronunciation of "of" and "have" which causes the mix-up between these two words, or is it just an indication of the standard of English language teaching in the UK being on a downward sliding slope? Incidentally, recently I read in a UK based business forum employers complaining about the poor standard of English they get to read in job applications by prospective employees.

    I don't even want to mention the rules of the National Lottery which seem to apply when people choose between "there", "their", and "they're".

    TomUK

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,910
    #2

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    It is a common mistake and I think it is because of the similarity in sound, especially in the contractions like would've.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 3,505
    #3

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It is a common mistake and I think it is because of the similarity in sound, especially in the contractions like would've.
    Yes, same as in the U.S. and I suspect that if you asked many/most persons who pronounce the contracted form to spell the form they would spell it as "could of", "should of" etc.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,902
    #4

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    In the UK for the last two decades or so, there has been no proper spelling, punctuation or grammar teaching in schools (in state schools, I mean). Many kids these days are growing up with no formal direction on spelling, so for many of them when they come to write something down for the first time, they have to guess at the spelling.

    The specific example you gave does have the problem that "should've" and "would've" can sound like "should of" and "would of". Of course, if there were any grammar classes, people would know that "should of" and "would of" make absolutely no sense!
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #5

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    I have seen 'should of' in reports written by teachers.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,221
    #6

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    When we're writing quickly, (at least for me), I write what my brain hears. As a result, I've written "no" instead of "know" and "hear" instead of "here" so I'm sure I've typed "could of" instead of "could've" -- not because I don't know the difference, but because my mental dictation is just going on sound. I wouldn't condemn someone who does it on a spontaneously created thing. But an editied piece is somethign else!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,902
    #7

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    It's not just a written problem either. There are plenty of BrE speakers who very clearly say "I could of done that", "He would of been here earlier but the car broke down". They are not saying "could've" or "would've" but they are genuinely certain that the second word is "of" and enunciate it very clearly. I spend a lot of time biting my tongue when speaking to these people!
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 02-Jul-2012 at 11:28. Reason: Missing punctuation
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,910
    #8

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    Maybe they think could of is more emphatic than could've.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #9

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Maybe they think could of is more emphatic than could've.
    You are almost certainly right. The point is that they use a clear 'of' rather than a clear 'have'.

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,902
    #10

    Re: He could of... Or couldn't he..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Maybe they think could of is more emphatic than could've.
    Do you mean that you think they are making a conscious choice between "could of" and "could have" or just that they happen not to be using the contraction "could've"?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •