While reading a book, I came across the word I'd've, as in:

I'd've argued against it.

While it was obvious what it meant, it left me puzzled. Is I'd've a proper word?

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    I wouldn't've thought it was a problem. :) Sep 20, 2010 at 23:15
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    I'm not sure if Peter Shor is joking, but I hope so, because "of" written (or, in fact, spoken) in place of "'ve", as in > "I would of said no, " rather than the correct > "I would've said no," is a far too frequently encountered pet peeve of mine. Surely it's not correct?
    – sarah
    Nov 20, 2011 at 11:43
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    Was I joking? Only partly. Note that I didn't say I'd of was a correct spelling, just a likely one. Consider this Ngram. Jun 5, 2013 at 22:06
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    If it follows the rules for English contractions, then it's acceptable. Examples: it'd've, they'd've, shouldn't've, wouldn't've, I'll've Examples that should be valid but that I don't use: they'ven't, you'lln't've, we'ven't'd (Those are crazy.)
    – Shibumi
    Dec 1, 2013 at 3:26
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    Would of is total nonsense. People pronounce it that way, but it is always a contraction of would have.
    – Carl Smith
    Dec 9, 2014 at 22:42

12 Answers 12


After reading your post, I realised that I say "I'd've" quite a lot in my actual speech. But I have never ever written it down, nor have I seen it written down (or, more accurately, I don't recall having ever seen it written down.)

It's not the kind of thing that I'd feel comfortable putting into a business email, definitely not an essay (unless that was my topic, oh, and I think that will be the topic of my next essay now.)

But it is the sort of thing which would fit nicely in the dialogue inside a novel. And you never know, it could one day be perfectly cromulent to write that, and would perhaps embiggen the written English language.

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    I'dn't've written it down, either.
    – pkaeding
    Aug 13, 2010 at 20:34
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    I never'd've known that such a trend would begin. Aug 13, 2010 at 22:16
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    It reads a bit funny when it's I'd've but I'dn't've looks absolutely atrocious and I can't really see allowing the one without the other. Mar 21, 2014 at 23:08
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    @LJNielsonDk this is clearly very late, but... The reason that I think the second looks atrocious is because the not contracts to have an apostrophe in the middle as opposed to the beginning. This inconsistency between the contractions is rather confusing, and something that could be disallowed while still allowing contractions of more words as long as they are consistent in this sense. Mar 29, 2019 at 20:45
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    @DreamConspiracy the reason the second looks wrong is because it is wrong. The "I'd" in "I'd've" is "I would". But "I wouldn't" doesn't contract to "I'dn't". The negative of "I'd've" is "I wouldn't've".
    – Aaron F
    Aug 26, 2020 at 21:54

There are 49 incidences of I’d’ve in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (search for I 'd 've). All but one occur in dialogue in fiction. The other one was in a transcript of Oprah.

It doesn’t appear that I’d’ve has any substantial contemporary usage in nonfiction writing at any level of formality. Of course, people say I’d’ve all the time, but if they were to write it down, they’d probably write I’d have.

  • What are the frequencies of "I'd have" "I would've" and "I would have"? Jul 27, 2017 at 20:11

While it has a certain logic to it, I've always found "I'd've" a contraction too far, preferring instead to write "I would have" "I would've" or "I'd have".

Thinking about it, I can't recall seeing "I'd've" used any kind of published text.

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    "A contraction too far." Love it.
    – user362
    Aug 13, 2010 at 12:47

This topic just came up on ELL, so I was doing a little research on it this morning, and remembered this question from way back. (You'd've thought I would've already forgotten about it by now.)

Contractions like I'd've, you'd've, and she'd've are uttered often enough in colloquial speech; so, the main question is: How would you spell them in written quotations?

One way is to replace have with of in an attempt to preserve the tone of the colloquial speech. Plenty of respected authors have done just that:

  • You'd of thought she was gonna get up, the next minute (E. Rice, 1928)
  • You'd of thought she had my appendicitis out (F.S. Fitzgerald, 1925)
  • You'd of thought he'd of laughed, wouldn't you? (S. Lewis, 1920)
  • You'd of thought I'd robbed the Crown Jewels, the way she acted (T. Sturgeon, 1958)

Another way is to bite the bullet and use the double contraction; you can find such double contractions in published works, too:

  • You'd've liked my mother. She was tough and smart and full of fun (N. Roberts, 2001)
  • If there's anything I have to do, it's write, old man, and if I'd wanted her to, she'd've stayed
    (I. Schulze, 2007)

For what it's worth, a Wiktionary page lists 47 double contractions (although many of those have a leading apostrophe – 'twasn't a surprise there).

I also checked a few Ngrams (such as you'd of thought vs. you'd've thought; Peter Shor alluded to a similar one in his comment above). These don't say much, except that double contractions have been used by writers to try to capture the spoken word for at least a century.

Back to the O.P.'s original question:

Is I'd've a proper word?

Really, the answer would be: "What do you mean by proper word? Your spellchecker may not like it, and most dictionaries probably won't list it. Use it in an eighth-grade essay, and your grammar teacher might either be horrified or else regard you as a creative savant. Still, you won't have any trouble finding them as a syntactic element in published books by established authors.

What makes a word a word? If you'd've established that in your question, we might've been able to provide a more definitive answer.

  1. Is I'd've a proper word?
  2. Is “I'd've” proper use of the English language?"

The answer is no for the first question. As others have already mentioned the shortening of the three words is quite common in everyday speech, and this written contraction form mimics the sound we make. It is extremely informal and I would never use it in writing not even under torture! :)

"I'd've" is a contraction of three separate words: I + would / should + have. But before any of us throw our arms up in despair it should be noted that at least the auxiliary used is correct.

Recently, (thanks above all to the Internet), it is becoming increasingly frequent to read and hear:

I should of; I would of; I could of and I might of.

So I'd hazard a guess that the people who write "I'd've" are aware of its correct full form and are more educated than at first glance.

Perhaps in five year's time we will all be reading: I'd'f or I't've and wondering what the hell it means on EL&U.

UPDATE 24 November 2017

It's spreading in an online paper near you…
A measly four years later, I happened to stumble over that precise spelling, in a comment written by Mail Online user, gonethankgoodness.

I don't understand how he could just give up & walk away! I'd've been trying everything possible to get my dogs off the poor beagle, & yes, I do know what these dogs are capable of, I have one myself, & no, she's not a status symbol, & no, she's never, ever off the lead in a public place.

Mail Online clipping


The only place in which I've seen double-apostrophe contractions is in Charles Dickens' work.

That being said, they do have cromulence, and are technically acceptable for formal speech. ;-p


I routinely write I'd've in emails, and no one has (so far) commented on its use.

Did have an ebrow raised once at its negative form: I'd'n't've

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    +1 for the insane contraction; however, being that wouldn't, couldn't and shouldn't don't (and don't for that matter) have an apostrophe before the n, I must insist upon I'dn't've rather than your proposed spelling.
    – snumpy
    Jun 2, 2011 at 13:33
  • I taught ESL/EFL for about nine years, from kindergartners in Busan, to 30/40+ migrants from Latin America in Las Vegas, and international students specialty prepping for the TOEFL before applying to a university stateside. I always taught some linguistic cram sessions every two weeks or so, tailored to appropriateness and skill level, to give them the proper tools to even think about language acquisition and instruction; one of these was the prescriptive vs. descriptive dichotomy. My gist: when in doubt go descriptive. Use double and triple contractions. BUT, I spelt the negative I'd'n've. Aug 13, 2020 at 3:03
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    "Did have an ebrow raised once at its negative form: I'd'n't've" - No wonder. The negative would be "I wouldn't've".
    – Aaron F
    Aug 26, 2020 at 21:56

I admit that I use "I'd've" in everyday conversation without even thinking about it but have never considered writing it and don't recall ever seeing it written, although it does remind me that in elementary school, we used to sing a song called "If I knew you were coming, I'd've baked a cake....baked a cake....baked a cake..." Wow, that was a blast from the past! :) Putting three words together into one word via contraction just looks weird.

  • You may like the youtube link I've added in the comment to my question :)
    – Kobi
    Sep 1, 2010 at 4:27

I would probably write it as "I'd 'ave", similar to the way you might write out how a cockney speaker pronounces "have". Otherwise I think most people read "I'd have" and recognize that most people will swallow the 'h', but I would hazard a guess that I'd've is just bad usage.


I routinely use (and receive) multiply-contracted words in SMS messages as a conveniencing shorthand.

I don't think it should be used in current formal writing of any sort, though the opportunities for multiply-contracted words to promulgate would be interesting to watch.


I write I'd've fairly frequently. I also use other rarely written contractions, such as should've. And, occasionally, words like wouldn't've, which is another triple contraction.

It's interesting that I'm the only person here to use I'd've. I like that contraction.

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    I'd've called that a double contraction since there are two contractions in it (though three words).
    – mgkrebbs
    Jun 1, 2011 at 18:29
  • I use I'd've fairly frequently in casual correspondence (like email), but I wouldn't use it in a formal setting. Jun 1, 2011 at 19:29

I think the thing is that "I'd've" sounds almost exactly like "I'd have" when pronounced (as opposed to "I would have"), but it's much more difficult to read.

Really, the difference between "I'd've" and "I'd have" is so small, I wonder if that's why it's never caught on.

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