The Red Pen: Woulda Coulda Shoulda

We Need to Talk About Grammar is a weekly feature in which I complain about grammatical mistakes I encounter all too often. Feel free to commiserate below, and check out the archives here!


Oh, this one just kills me, so I’m going to make it short before I get really angry!

I would of gone to the store, but I was out of gas.

Vol. 11 - Judge Judy gif

No. Nooooooooooo. So much no.

It’s would HAVE. And could have, and should have. If you ever see the words would, could, or should followed by the word of, you can probably dismiss the writer as a mouth-breathing troglodyte.

…I mean, not really, but…still. I can understand that the contractions would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve sound like they’re followed by of, but they’re not. (How could ‘ve indicate of?) I could go into a detailed explanation of conditional verbs, but I won’t. Just please, please, please never use of when you mean have. Please.

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