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Of or have?

Using “of” instead of “have”

Using “of” instead of “have”

By Zak Hall - English Grammar

Interestingly, this is a mistake that many people make, yet don’t know that they are doing it. It happens on an unconscious level.

This extremely common mistake that is made by learners of all levels including native speakers is inserting “of” where it should be “have”.

It is extremely important to correct this type of mistake as it can give someone a bad impression of you. This is especially relevant in professional or formal situations. Mistakes in English are natural. There are so many subtleties and little points that can make a large difference to your language standard as a whole. You need to make mistakes in order to learn.


using of instead of have


An example of the problem: The child should of gone to school today.

Correct form: The child should have gone to school today.


The confusion comes here because of the spoken pronunciation. This is common in English as it is such a widely spoken language. You are likely to speak English more than you write it, as this is the most realistic use of the language.

In English, we often contract the form of “should have” to “should’ve” for spoken and sometimes written ease. This means that the “-ve” syllable can get lost, we don’t pay much attention to what that word actually means because we don’t have to.

If you want to understand this further, try saying “Should’ve” and “Should of” quickly, one after the other. There is no discernible difference between the sounds of these words.

That’s not the biggest problem in terms of speaking. As long as you are pronouncing something correctly and you are understood you are completing the objective of spoken English. However, this can lead to bad habits developing when writing.

The fact is, “should of” is incorrect. If you write this in an exam you will receive no credit, regardless of how good the rest of the sentence is. In a formal setting, if you use the incorrect form, it could cause you to miss out on a job opportunity or a great deal that you were just about to close.

Again, it is important to remember that even native speakers make this mistake and so you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. Instead, try to practice writing sentences in the correct form over and over again. Repetition is the best way to form a habit and this habit could really benefit your future English exchanges.