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Writing Tips has been archived and won’t be updated before it is permanently deleted.

For the most up-to-date content, please consult Writing Tips Plus, which combines content from Writing Tips and The Canadian Style. And don’t forget to update your bookmarks!

To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

could have, could’ve, could of

Avoid the non-standard spelling could of, in which the preposition of is incorrectly substituted for the verb have or its contraction ’ve.

  • Jason could have (not could of) helped you with that.
  • You could’ve (not could of) said so sooner!

The error is equally common with should have, would have, might have and must have and their contractions.

  • I should have (not should of) studied longer for my English test.
  • Our neighbours would’ve (not would of) enjoyed seeing that film.
  • We might have (not might of) missed our flight if we had waited.
  • Hannah must’ve (not must of) left by now.