The UVic Writer's Guide

Could of, Would of, Should of, etc.

Yes, it sounds like this in casual conversation, but the correct spelling is "could have, would have," etc. It is an error guaranteed to raise your intructor's hackles. ("Hackles" are the long feathers on a cock's neck; the bird raises them in anger.) If you are reporting dialogue, and want to retain a colloquial flavour, use "could've".

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 22, 1995