My question is in reference to the following headline I came across on a running publication. It is worded as such:

"The men's 1500m prelim saw a lot of pushing and shoving. So what do you think - should Joe Hardy of Wisconsin been disqualified?"

So, is this correct? If I were to read it without the extra information that he was "of Wisconsin" the sentence would be:

"So what do you think - should Joe Hardy been disqualified?"

This sentence seems even more off-putting, but is it actually grammatically correct to structure it this way?

To me:

"So what do you think - should Joe Hardy have been disqualified?"

sounds more correct. However, to say:

"So what do you think - should Joe Hardy of Wisconsin have been disqualified?"

sounds especially clunky. What gives? How should this be worded? And does including the "have" suggest that he was actually disqualified? (Because this is not the case, he wasn't disqualified and the question was, well, should he have been?)

  • 1
    Yeah, it's a simple error. But note that headlines are often subject to space pressures, and the person setting the headline may take "liberties" with the language to make things fit.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 22:47
  • “Should Joe Hardy of Wisconsin have been disqualified?” does not sound clunky at all. It sounds perfectly normal and natural. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


It's simply an error. should have been is correct.

Edit: I should also note should be would also be correct if there was still opportunity for him to be disqualified.

  • Completely agree with you. But I do notice that when I say it out loud (without reading at the same time), it sounds more correct than when I read it. I wonder if the "of" in "of Wisconsin" is tricking my brain into thinking that I've said "have" in its contracted form ('ve).
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 13:14

In my dialect of more or less standard American English, "should been" is not possible, and it has to be "should have been". However, "should been" sounds familiar to me. I'd guess it is okay in some English dialects. I just googled "might been", which strikes me as a parallel form, and got quite a few hits.

Oh, and I just asked my wife, who is a linguist, and grew up in Michigan, about "should been", and she said it sounded perfectly okay, as colloquial English, to her.

  • 1
    I think Ida said shoulda been; gotta keep those voiced stops apart. Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 0:23

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