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  1. probus's Avatar
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    #11

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    To me, "would of" and "would've" are the same or at least interchangeable in this context. Both are so obviously wrong it hardly matters which the speaker prefers. They are like antibiotic resistant germs --- here to stay because there is no cure.

  2. Senior Member
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    #12

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    I guess "would of" is a product of the "bone apple tea" effect. It sounds similar enough to "would've" to be mistaken for it. The funniest mistake of this kind I've seen so far was when somebody wrote "minus well" instead of "might as well".

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    #13

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    The "would of", "your/you're" "there/their/they're" "its/it's", etc, mistakes have always been with us, and have probably bothered fewer people than some of us realise.

    The minimum school leaving age in England was 14 until 1947 and 15 until 1972. Over 70% of young people left school at, or very soon after, the minimum age, and most of them in those days would have little cause to write for the rest of their lives except for personal correspondence and occasional filling in of forms. The minority of people who could actually write - and spell correctly - rarely saw the writing of people who had left school at the minimum age, and were unaware of how common basic spelling mistakes were. And, if those who wrote professionally made spelling mistakes, these were usually (except at the Grauniad) corrected by an army of proofreaders and editors.

    From about the mid 1960s onwards, creativity and self-expression took priority over formal grammar and spelling in very many state schools. Many teachers only five or ten years younger than I wrote in a way that would have had my English masters apoplectic. At undergraduate level, a high regard for correct spelling was thought of as unnecessarily pedantic.

    At the same time, the structure of the language considered 'acceptable' in much legal, academic and other formal language became decidedly less formal. For forty years now, the Plain English Campaign has fought, with considerable success, to have official language used documents prepared for the general public. This drive towards simpler, clearer language has not in itself had an effect no spelling but, in my opinion, made some people less prepared to worry about any for of over-formality, including spelling.

    However, the main reason I see for the near exponential growth in the appearance of
    "would of", "your/you're" "there/their/they're" "its/it's", and of "wanna", "gonna", etc, waselectronic communication. Only twenty years ago, most people addressed their writing only to family and friends. Today, thanks to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, blogs (and many other things this technophobe has not heard of) people whose written words used to be read by at most dozens of acquaintances are now read by hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. and most of these readers don't care about about previous unacceptable forms, if they even notice them.

    Those of us who get our knickers in a twist over such things are a dying breed - literally. Few of those of us who pontificate regularly here or in other forums are under fifty, and several are in our seventies. I know of at least two at UE who over over 80.

    by 2039 most of us are gonna be dead, we wont be missed. people dont wanna read style guides even today, in 20 years they wont exist. prescription has had it's day. the written language is gonna be fully democratised
    Last edited by Piscean; 03-Jun-2019 at 06:09.

  4. probus's Avatar
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    #14

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    In light of Piscean's remarks on the generations I decided to poll my own children. I asked simply "Which is better English?

    1. If I would've known, things would have turned out differently.

    2. If I would of known, things ..."

    The results surprised and disappointed me. Daughter born in 1978, professor of medicine, preferred 1 and failed to note that 2 is wrong. Daughter born in 1980, M.A. in English and a writer and editor by profession said she would correct both to 'If I had known ..." only if she was being paid to do so. She would tolerate 1 in casual writing and barely notice it in spoken English.

    So much for my assertion that both are obviously incorrect.🙄.
    Last edited by probus; 03-Jun-2019 at 05:18. Reason: Fix smiley

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    #15

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    Thank you all for your insights (especially Piscean, this was one of the most enjoyable to read pieces of writing I've read in a long time).

    I've been thinking about some of your reactions. You, as professional teachers, obviously have a different view on the matter. I understand it's frustrating to see fellow native speakers notoriously violate the rules teaching of which is your job, and I do sympathize.

    However, don't you think that insisting on keeping the rules nobody follows does more harm than good to the language (for example leading to historic spelling, or reinforcing obsolete rules)? Language is something that forms naturally. Except for conlags, nobody sits down and makes up the rules for everyone to follow. The job of a linguist is to figure out why people speak the way they do, and make it possible and easy to understand and learn how language works. The job of a language teacher is to explain how and why the rules should be followed. I believe that if the theory doesn't match reality, it's the theory that's wrong and should be revised.

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    #16

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    I agree with GS, that the distinction in the tenses is being lost. This doesn't bother me too much.

    But the difference between "your" and "you're" is semantic and should be preserved in writing.

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    #17

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    I read this in an obituary in yesterday's New York Times: "'If we would have moved off this corner, this whole community would have been gone a long time ago,' she told Carol Allen, a biographer."

    The woman being quoted was quite old at the time. The article doesn't mention when the quote was recorded but she would have been in her eighties at least. She was an African American from a small town in Louisiana, with a high school diploma which represented more than the usual amount of education her peers would have had. She actually moved to New Orleans as a girl to attend high school because at the time, "... her hometown had no schools for African-Americans past sixth grade ...." Using "would have" in place of the past perfect may be common in African-American Vernacular English, though the Wikipedia article on the subject doesn't mention that trait.
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  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #18

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Using "would have" in place of the past perfect may be common in African-American Vernacular English
    I've been paying close attention to this particular error for several years now, and I have considered that it could perhaps reasonably be considered a part of AAVE, since it seems (based only on my personal observations) to be common among, and as far as I can tell overrepresented in, African-American speakers. Having said that, I do continue to notice it in all kinds of American speech, across a range of ages, genders and social groups, which leads me to believe that it is a full-blown feature of American English, and probably has been for some time.

    It does remain distinctly unBritish in this form, however—I've only ever heard one native British English speaker use it. The form that is used ubiquitously here in the UK is very similar, but also different in an important and interesting way: instead of fully articulating the would in its strong form, it is only ever contracted to 'd. This means that you would be very likely to hear If we'd have moved off this corner ... but not If we would have moved off this corner ...

    What makes this particularly fascinating to me is that the contracted 'd has come to be assumed as a weak form of had instead of would, and so when articulated in negative clauses, you get If we hadn't've moved ... Now, where the erroneous American forms would have and wouldn't have are at least grammatical as chunks in themselves, the British versions had have and hadn't have are not, making them in my opinion impossible to justify.

    I think that this is an interesting difference in that it is far easier to conceive that such an error could ever become fully accepted as standard in US English than in British English. Although I do believe, much like in the biological sphere, that language change is effected through mutation and replication, I think that those mutations such as had have, which violate certain deeply structural grammatical rules, will always remain as 'errors', no matter how commonplace they may become.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 03-Jun-2019 at 23:43. Reason: improvements

  9. Raymott's Avatar
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    #19

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    "Now, where the erroneous American forms would have and wouldn't have are at least grammatical as chunks in themselves..."
    Yes, but I find it impossible to justify using "If you would have" to mean "If you had", since it already has a different meaning. If "If you would have ..." were otherwise meaningless, then it might be acceptable. But it's semantically wrong. On the other hand "If you had have" doesn't mean something else, so it's not likely to be misinterpreted.


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    #20

    Re: What do you think about common mistakes?

    I never thought about this before, but I really have no idea what I'm contracting when I say, for example, If you hadn't-a done that, you'd have nothing to worry about now. It feels like an elided hadn't've, which doesn't make sense. If it's really hadn't a-done that, this is the only participle that I attach a- to.
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