Education :: My Biggest Writing Pet Peeve

What is wrong with the following sentences?

I should of known you would say that. I could of stopped you.

I know many people get frustrated with the wrong use of there/their/they’re, its/it’s and to/too/two. Yes, these annoy me as well. However, the issue in the two sentences above is my biggest pet peeve! Honestly, it drives me insane.

Still not sure of the issue? Here, I’ll write the correct version of the sentences:

I should have known you would say that. I could have stopped you.

I love that English lends itself so well to doing contractions [it is = it’s]! However, these contractions cause some issues for us if we’ve heard the contraction far more often than we’ve seen it. So, let’s rewrite the sentence once more with the contractions and if you weren’t sure about what I’m saying in this post, maybe you’ll see where the issue came from.

I should’ve known you would say that. I could’ve stopped you.

I hope you said that sentence out loud. If you did, you’ll see it sounds just like the first version! Of and ‘ve sound basically the same! Especially on words like should, would, and could.

Now, you may be reading this and saying, “Come on, Brittany. We know this already. Why are you harping on it so much???”

Well! You may know it, but have you taken the time to explain this mistake to your students? When I was a teacher, I saw other teachers using “of” instead of “‘ve”. Hey, I know we’re not all English majors! (Heck, I wasn’t even an English major! I just LOVE grammar!!!) Beyond that, even today I still see far too many people using the incorrect form.

So I beg you: please, please, please teach your students the correct version. Just this one simple change enhances our students’ writing beyond what you would expect.

Not only is “should’ve” correct, but when you teach the reason behind the correction, it changes your students’ perspective on why it’s correct and they’re far less likely to make the mistake again in the future.

What are your big pet peeves?

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