Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

How do you pronounce "would've", "should've" and "could've"?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In IPA, that's

would've - /wʊdəv/ - WOULD-uhv
should've - /ʃʊdəv/ - SHOULD-uhv
could've - /kʊdəv/ - COULD-uhv

where "uhv" is a schwa sound followed by a V sound.

Frequently, in fast or informal speech, the V sound will be elided (omitted), and the results will sound like "would-a", "should-a", "could-a".

Edit: I will note that “woulda, shoulda, coulda” (and the same words in different orders) is a very informal idiom that refers dismissively to regretting missed opportunities. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has about 23 examples of all three of them used together, mostly in fiction and spoken English, but also in quoted speech in a few newspaper and magazine articles.

share|improve this answer
1  
Yup, and that’s why I have seen (far too many) illiterates on the Internet actually write would of, should of, could of. :-| –  Synetech Feb 22 '11 at 5:24
add comment

wood-uv, shud-uv, cud-uv.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If you listen closely, sometimes you'll hear me say "wooda". However, I usually say "wood'-uv" with the second syllable very abbreviated.

The pronunciation leads to a common spelling error: "would of".

share|improve this answer
6  
"would of" makes me want to claw my eyes out sometimes. –  Chris Dwyer Aug 31 '10 at 5:09
add comment

protected by RegDwigнt Oct 3 '12 at 10:01

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.