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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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