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


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.

  • 3
    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

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


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".

  • 6
    "would of" makes me want to claw my eyes out sometimes. – Chris Dwyer Aug 31 '10 at 5:09

protected by RegDwigнt Oct 3 '12 at 10:01

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