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Is It “Would Of” or “Would Have”?

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You’re not alone in your confusion about “would of” and “would have.” Below, we’ll get to the bottom of which phrase is correct, plus let you in on a little secret so that you never use the wrong phrase again.

Would of vs. Would Have: One of these is correct.
Do you know the difference between “would of” and “would have”?
“Would Of” or “Would Have”?

The correct spelling is would have, not would of. This mistake is common among English speakers because the contracted version of would have (would’ve) sounds similar to would of when pronounced aloud.

  • I would have helped, but I didn’t know you were struggling.
  • I would’ve helped, but I didn’t know you were struggling.

“Would Of” vs. “Would Have”: Which Is the Correct Spelling?

Would have is a phrase often used in written and spoken communication. However, English speakers of all levels sometimes use the phrase would of in place of would have. This is incorrect.

Let’s take a look at why this mistake is made so frequently, so you can avoid it yourself.

I would’ve gone to the party, but I got sick.
I would of gone to the party, but I got sick.

If you read the two example sentences above, you’ll notice that they sound similar. That’s because the contracted form of would have, which is would’ve, sounds very much like would of.

Even if no one can distinguish between the two phrases when you’re speaking, the mistake becomes obvious as soon as you write them down.


Would of:

Remember: Would have (or the contracted form would’ve) is the only correct spelling; would of is an extremely common misspelling.

I would have passed the exam if I had studied the last chapter.

I would’ve passed the exam if I had studied the last chapter.

I would of passed the exam if I had studied the last chapter.

If it hadn’t rained, we would have gone on a bike ride.

If it hadn’t rained, we would’ve gone on a bike ride.

If it hadn’t rained, we would of gone on a bike ride.

When To Use “Would Have”

We’ve covered the correct spelling of the phrase would have, not let’s go over what the phrase means and how to use it in a sentence.

Would is a type of modal auxiliary verb, along with can, could, shall, should, may, might, must and ought to. These types of verbs help demonstrate ability, possibility, probability, necessity, permission, and obligation.

Together, would and have form a modal verb phrase. Would have is often used to express something that was expected to happen in the past, but didn’t because something else did (or didn’t) occur first.

Jared would have won the race, but unfortunately, he twisted his ankle in the last mile.

In the sentence above, the phrase would have helps express that Jared was poised to win the race, but didn’t because he twisted his ankle.

It’s important to note that past participles always follow the phrase would have.

He would have went, but he had the wrong address.

He would have gone, but he had the wrong address.

Here are a few more examples of would have in a sentence:

I would have passed the class, but my teacher had it out for me.
John would have loved to see you, but he had to go home early.
I would have called, but my phone ran out of battery.
That’s something Kimberly would have completed if she were still here.

The last sentence above is an example of a reverse conditional sentence and therefore doesn’t require a comma. If the would have clause is placed in the second part of the sentence, then a comma is required.

If Kimberly were still here, that’s something she would have completed.
Image shows quote by Horace that includes the phrase "would have."
“Would have” is a modal verb phrase.
Is It “Should Of” or “Should Have”?

Should have is the correct spelling, whereas should of is a commonly used misspelling. The phrase should have is used to indicate that something was expected or recommended in the past but did not become reality. The contraction of should have is should’ve.

  • We should’ve gone to the meeting with the team.

What Is the Contraction for “Would Have”?

The contracted form of would have is would’ve. Just in case you need a reminder: A contraction is a shortened form of words or phrases. They are formed by omitting certain letters and replacing them with an apostrophe.

Keep in mind that contractions are usually reserved for informal writing. It’s best to avoid them in formal settings.

Lena would’ve gone to the concert, but she had to work.
Charles and Xavier would’ve joined us for the presentation had the train been on time.
I didn’t know you were going to be there. If I did, I would’ve attended too.
My dog would’ve loved to go to the beach with us, but dogs weren’t allowed.
We weren’t invited to dinner. Otherwise, we would’ve accepted the invitation.
Is It “Could Of” or “Could Have”?

The correct spelling is could have, not could of. Like would’ve and should’ve, the phrase could of is often used because it sounds similar to could’ve (the contracted form of could have) when said out loud.

  • I could have completed the marathon in less time.

Using “Would Have” and “Would’ve” Correctly

The way certain English words are pronounced makes mistakes like accidentally using would of in place of would have common. Keep this in mind, though: Would of is grammatically incorrect and should never be used in your writing. The phrase you want is would have or would’ve.

LanguageTool is an intelligent writing assistant that can ensure proper usage of would have. It can also check for various types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes while analyzing your text to provide stylistic improvements.

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