I'm used to seeing modal verbs followed by auxiliary verbs, like this:

I should have been reading.

However, I've heard people say things like:

I'm glad you did or I wouldn't met you.

I knew we shouldn't trusted him.

Is this construction without the auxiliary informal?

Is there a difference if I rewrite those sentences as:

I'm glad you did or I wouldn't have met you.

I knew we shouldn't have trusted him.

  • 9
    You surely must be mishearing, or listening to speakers of some dialect that is not Standard English. Those are not informal: they are completely ungrammatical and wrong in Standard English, and I have never heard them before.
    – tchrist
    Aug 24, 2013 at 19:49
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    It's standard English to reduce auxiliary have by contracting with a preceding modal; there are even standard eyd-dialect spelling for them: shoulda, shouldna, woulda, wouldna, coulda, couldna, musta, etc. That final shwa is very easily lost in speech, especially after a prior syllabic negative contraction, and since the past participle already marks the ghost of the auxiliary, it's not really necessary and may be sacrificed to save a syllable. If you're not a native listener, you may miss the hints; some people swallow unstressed syllables all the time. Aug 24, 2013 at 20:16
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    @JohnLawler Because in some (many?) speakers the only stop remaining in those shouldna-type “words” is a glottal one, not a t or d or even a flap, I imagine that would be even harder for non-native listeners to read as a clue if they weren’t accustomed to that particular phenomenon.
    – tchrist
    Aug 24, 2013 at 21:05
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    fæspitʃrulz work in multifarious ways, their wəndərstupərfɔrm. Aug 24, 2013 at 21:43
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    Following on from John's point, since the poster is called "José", it might also be pertinent to point out that Spanish has epenthetic vowels in some cases that don't actually represent a separate word (notably before sibilant-stop clusters, e.g. in "(e)scanear" there is an optional 'e' vowel). These are never schwas in Spanish. But nonetheless, it is a reasonable hypothesis that a Spanish listener will be more used to 'tuning out' epenthetic vowels and so less used to listening out for the vowel in e.g. "would(a)" as 'a separate word'. Aug 24, 2013 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


The most likely explanation of what you heard is that the speaker was mushing "n't" and "have" into something that sounded like "n'ta":

I'm glad you did or I wouldn'ta met you.

I knew we shouldn'ta trusted him.

This is never written as such even though various American dialects will speed over this contraction so quickly a non-native would not have heard it.


Those sentences are invalid in American, because the verb tenses conflict with each other. The future & past versions of these words need to match.

"would have met"----- versus "will meet"    
"should have trusted" versus "should trust"

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