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Should Have or Should Of?

It sounds as if you’re saying “should of” or “shoulda” and “must of” or “musta,” but these words are really contractions.

By
Mignon Fogarty,

"Should Have" or "Should Of"

People often ask why others write “should of” instead of “should have,” “could of” instead of “could’ve,” and “must of” instead of “must have.”

Why Do People Say “Should Of”?

When you’re talking, it sounds as if you’re saying “I should of called my sister” or “I shoulda called my sister,” and “I must of forgotten her phone number” or “I musta left my phone at home. 

It sounds as if you’re saying “should of” or “shoulda” and “must of” or “musta,” but these words are really contractions:

  • should’ve for should have
  • must’ve for must have
  • could’ve for could have

Remember that these words aren’t spelled the way they sound. You might say, “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” but you should spell them should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve.

should of or should have

Image via Notestragram. 

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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