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Got into an argument with someone I know about this. I think "shouldn't of" is incorrect and comes from people typing the phrase the way they're used to pronouncing it.

He believes both are correct. Thoughts guys?

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, simchona, RegDwigнt Aug 6 '11 at 0:57

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Voting to close on the grounds this is a constant source of peeving amongst English-speaking people at large. So if OP really needs confirmation of his position there's a whole internet out there full of it. – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '11 at 0:36
Fumble, I did search. I found no great consensus. Are you telling me that there is not an acceptable answer? – Daniel Aug 6 '11 at 0:38
Dang it. :( Fml. – tylermwashburn Aug 6 '11 at 3:11
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are very right, Daniel. The correct phrase is "shouldn't have", but because in speech, we tend to pronounce the "'ve" part of "have" only, it could be mistaken for "of". See this site:

This is one of those errors typically made by a person more familiar with the spoken than the written form of English. A sentence like “I would have gone if anyone had given me free tickets” is normally spoken in a slurred way so that the two words “would have” are not distinctly separated, but blended together into what is properly rendered “would’ve.” Seeing that “V” tips you off right away that “would’ve” is a contraction of “would have.” But many people hear “would of” and that’s how they write it. Wrong.

Now, I know the above article is talking about "should of" not "shouldn't of", but where does "shouldn't of" come from? It's a negation of the root mistake!

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I have seen "sould of", "would of", "could of". HUGE peeve of mine! It ranks right up there with "knowed" in my peeve level! "You should of knowed it was gonna happen!" – TecBrat Aug 31 '12 at 12:39

"Shouldn't've" is a double contraction of "should not" and "shouldn't have." "Shouldn't of" is not correct.


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