I could HAVE, not I could OF
On June 10, 2019 | 0 Comments | Grammar tips |

We learn to speak before we learn to read and write, so sometimes when putting words onto the page it’s easy to confuse those that sound the same (also known as homonyms or homophones).

For example:

  • bred and bread
  • plane and plain
  • great and grate
  • led and lead
  • to and two and too
  • there and they’re and their

While the above words sound exactly the same all the time, two that don’t sound exactly the same all the time, but which I’ve noticed people frequently confuse, are OF and HAVE. 

How so, some of you might be asking? OF and HAVE don’t sound anythingalike!

Sometimes they do. Read the following sentences out loud and decide which is correct:

  1. I should HAVE gone to the movies. 
  2. I should OF gone to the movies. 
  3. I should’ve gone to the movies.
  1. You could HAVE given me a little more notice. 
  2. You could OF given me a little more notice. 
  3. You could’ve given me a little more notice.
  1. We should HAVE paid more attention in English class.
  2. We should OF paid more attention in English class. 
  3. We should’ve paid more attention in English class.

When you say the above sentences out loud, they sound identical, right?

In each example 1 and 3 are correct, and 2 makes no sense. (Each 3 is a contraction of the 1.)

If you mix up HAVE and OF when you’re speaking, it won’t raise any eyebrows. But most people can tell the difference when they’re reading, so be careful! 


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