Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

A commonly-seen grammar and/or spelling pet peeve of mine is when people use the expressions ‘Would of’, ‘Could of’, ‘Should of’ instead of the correct form shown in the title of this post.

‘Would’ve’, etc are contractions of ‘Would have’ with the apostrophe replacing the ‘ha’. What does ‘would of’ even mean? It’s nonsensical. I believe it is only because, when spoken quickly, the ‘ve’ sounds a bit like ‘of’. So people began spelling it that way. However, now I hear it spoken quite often, too – perhaps they think they are articulating the phrase clearly, but they are showing their ignorance of correct grammar when they say: ‘I would of called you but…’ or similar.

Here are a couple more

‘Less’ or ‘fewer’?

It is easy to confuse these two and I have even heard TV presenters, politicians, etc sdo it, but there is a rule which tells you which of these is correct. It’s pretty easy! If the word is being used with a countable noun (something that you can count, such as dogs, pints, legs) use ‘fewer’.

For example: ‘I have fewer dogs now than I had two years ago.’

‘The woman drank fewer pints of beer than her boyfriend.’

Cartoon of a one-legges pirate

‘The pirate has one leg fewer than he did before the ship was bombed.’

If the word is being used with an uncountable noun (such as milk, love, space), use ‘less’.

Examples: ‘Next time, put less milk on your cereal and you won’t spill it!’

‘Since he cheated on her, Anne felt less love for Jamie.’

‘When Jack returned from University, Bill had less space in the wardrobe for his clothes.’

To sum up – ‘fewer’ means ‘not as many as’ and ‘less’ means ‘not as much as.’

Other mistakes often made nowadays are confusing ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. ‘Affect’ is usually a verb and means to impact or change something. ‘Effect’ is usually a noun and is the result of a change.

For example: ‘The death of her mother affected her terribly.’

You can’t say: ‘The death of her mother had a terrible affect on her.’

However, you CAN say: ‘The death of her mother had a terrible effect on her.’

How to remember these? Well, a verb is an action or ‘doing’ word and ‘affect’ is a verb, an action word. They both begin with the letter ‘a’.