Angela’s ABCs Cruelty to ‘of’

Cruelty to ‘of’

I received an email from a 10 year old friend of mine the other day which said:

‘She must of left her bag on her peg.’

And another young friend of mine wrote:

‘Who’d of thought it?’

You can hear and see it every day: ‘should of’, ‘would of’, ‘could of’, ‘might of’ and ‘must of’.

A mistaken hearing of ‘should’ve’, ‘would’ve’, ‘could’ve’, ‘might’ve’  and ‘must’ve’ which people now use in writing. I have seen this written often by school and college students who seem never to have been told that it’s a mistake.

Could this strange combination make its way, through common usage, into our language? If you know something about grammar, you’ll know that the construction is a nonsense, because it combines a modal verb ‘must’, ‘could’, ‘might’ etc. with a preposition ‘of’, and that just cannot be according to the rules of grammar. But maybe it can be according to the rules of usage. If something is widespread enough, it will eventually become accepted, regardless of what is correct.

For the time being, I’d like to make a plea for the correct construction, so that we write:

‘She must have/must’ve left her bag on her peg.’

‘Who would have/Who’d’ve thought it.’

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4 Comments on “Angela’s ABCs Cruelty to ‘of’

    • Yes, that does cause some problems. I wrote about ‘I, me and myself’ on the 26 June – have a look and see if I’ve covered everything.

      • Yes all good but the statement which got me going was in a report:
        ‘The action was done by Billy, John and I.’

        I believe it should have been ‘me’

      • Yes, you are absolutely right. You wouldn’t say ‘The action was done by I’, you would always say ‘The action was done by me.’ I always suggest taking out the extra names (in this case Billy and John) and then seeing whether it makes sense when you are just left with ‘I’.
        Another example often seen is ‘Thank you for the book that you gave Susan and I for Christmas.’ Again, if you take out Susan, you wouldn’t say ‘Thank you for the book that you gave I.’ So the correct form is ‘Thank you for the book that you gave Susan and me for Christmas.’

        See this link for more detail: https://verbalberbal.com/2012/06/16/angelas-abcs-8/

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