Screen shot 2012-05-29 at 12.13.42 PMMy formal training is as a linguist, not an English teacher, so I know that language is a fluid thing. What is considered incorrect can become correct through a critical mass of mainstream usage. But there are just certain “wrongs” that I’d hate to see gain enough

traction to become “right”.

Are you guilty of using any of these? Do you think we should love ‘em (accept these transgressions and let them creep into our textbooks) or leave ‘em?

Would Of

In my last Love ‘em or Leave ‘em, I aired my beef with what I call The Double Woulda.

If I would have known you were going to the market, I would have asked you to buy some pork rinds.

Correct: If I had known you were going to the market, I would have asked you to buy some pork rinds.)

Although it is often used on its own, the cringe factor of the Double Woulda can be compounded by the good ol’ “Would OF”.

If I would of known about the party last night, I would of attended.

(With grammar like that, you probably weren’t invited.)

Correct: If I had known about the party last night, I would have attended.

You don’t notice it as much when people talk because “of” and “have” can sound very similar when spoken conversationally. But there’s no mistaking it when you see it written.

Here’s what Grammar Girl says: “…let’s take a look at what has happened to the constructions “would have,” “could have,” and “should have.” People have heard the perfectly correct [contraction] “could’ve”—and heard it as “could of.”

There’s the helping verb “could,” but then if you spell it “could of,” it has no main verb to help.  So, in theory, it’s helping a preposition, “of.”  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  It’s “could have.”

Here’s what I say: it’s a slippery slope when sounds get diluted or dropped altogether because of lazy enunciation. We Americans are particularly guilty of this— the French gleefully accuse us of eating our words (manger les mots) like we’re talking with a triple wad of Dubble Bubble in there…

If verbal degradation like “would of” creeps into the mainstream, moral depravity could be right around the corner. Look what happened when they let everyone listen to rock ‘n roll. Call me old fashioned, but it’s my firm belief that we should fight to keep would OF away from the children.

What do you think about “Would Of”? Love it or leave it?