‘Would of’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

The expression “would of” is a common mistake. People who learn English mainly by ear (including many native speakers, unfortunately) sometimes want to write what they hear as “would uhf” and assume it must be “would of” (which would be pronounced this way).

However, this doesn’t make sense; what they want to say is “would’ve”, a contracted form of “would have”. For example, when someone writes “I never would of thought”, what he means is “I never would’ve thought” = “I never would have thought”. To summarize:

I would have done it. (correct)
I would’ve done it. (correct, colloquial)
I would of done it. (wrong)

Similarly, “could of” is a misspelling of “could’ve” and “should of” is a misspelling of “should’ve”.

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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