Could of, Would of, Should of…

Teaching English to Spanish speakers, as opposed to teaching young native English speaking kids is a different art. Maybe only slightly, but still, different it is. One of my favourite examples? When I was a wee kid I had an English teacher called Mr Taylor who would go a little nuts when we made certain mistakes. By nuts I mean to say chalk was thrown, hair or ears pulled and a certain amount of shouting.

His pet hate would be someone writing ‘could of’ instead of ‘could’ve’. Thing is, as a native English speaker, you learn to talk before you learn to write. And the contracted ‘have’ is pronounced in exactly the same way as the word ‘of’. It comes out as a sort of an ‘uv’. A packet uv sweets please. I could uv eaten more. Etcetera.

I have never seen a non native English speaker make this mistake, and it’s just down to how and when they learn the language. For most of them there is no ‘uv’ sound at all, so no confusion. On the other hand, I still see the native speakers making this mistake all the time. No sooner had I explained this error in a class, than I came home to find this on Facebook…and it seems it’s contagious. If only their teachers could of seen them now.

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