Weekly Writing Challenge: I Wish I Were

I wish I were in a position to correct another writing error, apart from this one on the subjunctive.

I’m sure that this post is supposed to tell you all about where I’d like to be or what I’d like to be doing, but instead I’m going to use it to have a bleat about another piece of grammar. So:

My grammar is as bad as anyone whose native language is English. We’re not really taught it, are we? We learn it after-the-fact as we learn to cope in another language. I learned Latin, where the grammar is strictly adhered to and you need to know how English is put together. I didn’t, which made life hard. And then French, where I discovered French teachers don’t take kindly to people lousing up their grammar.

However, in English, my particular bugbears are to do with the tiny word ‘of’:

I could of, I should of, I would of… done something or other. NO!

The word ‘of’ has nothing to do with any of these which are pieces of a verb – I expect someone will tell me the exact tense, but I think they are conditional past and that word ‘of’ should be ‘have’.

The confusion arises because we shorten the expressions especially when we say them: so ‘could have’ becomes ‘could’ve’ and so on, and in speech this sounds like could of. That doesn’t mean it should be written that way.

I could have, I should have, I would have.

Now so many people use ‘of’, it’s becoming accepted and in speech is barely noticeable, yet when we see it written down, it makes absolutely no sense.

Thank you for letting me have an opportunity to rant on the subject.

P.S. I don’t like the use of ‘myself’ when people mean ‘me’ either!

P.P.S. Hope all my friends from across the Pond are safe and well after the enormous storm. Take care y’all!

P.P.P.S. Happy Halloween.


26 responses to “Weekly Writing Challenge: I Wish I Were

  1. I wrote a story a few months ago where my character said ” you should of had…..” and read it out in my writing class. A lot of people said it wasn’t correct, I was shocked!

    I was born and bred in South East London, and i went to a grammar school! lol

    We ended up debating whether it would be ok to use in dialogue because that’s how people talk, that’s how I talk lol.

    I changed it to “should’ve” ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Hooray! A convert. It looks so dreadful in writing even if that’s is the way we speak. I’m an Essex girl – not sure I should have admitted that on here! – so I dare say my speech is pretty sloppy, but I do try to write nice(ly!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Yay for rants! I should of thought of this as a blogging topic.

    • Quite enjoyed ranting!
      Anyway, I wish I were rich/blonde/thin/adventurous – it’s all been done – much better to have a bit of a moan!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I don’t know what your blog was about because just like in school everything dissolved into a low hum and I heard yada, yada, yada.
    I still actually heard what you said and agree, sort of. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hear tell a rant is good for the soul. Happy Halloween back at ya.

  4. Oh! I love grammar rants! When I was in grad school to become a teacher, I actually had other potential teachers say things like, “I’m a science teacher. What difference does it make if I spell something wrong?” I wanted to scream; in fact, sometimes I did scream. I wasn’t the most popular student. BTW, I’m in Chicago, so no worries about the storm, but all of my East coast family seems intact. Thanks for the good wishes. Oh, and I have no idea what being an Essex girl means, so I won’t hold it against you.

    • Glad you are fine – did look v. scary from over here. Grammar is weird, it separates people – some think it’s very important and others don’t give a fig.
      Others still (er, me) care about some things and not others, so I guess they’re the weirdest of all!.
      And this side of the Pond everyone thinks they know what an Essex girl is: skirt up as high as it shouldn’t go, white shirt with black bra underneath, very loud mouthed and with the morals of an alley cat!! Lots of jokes about Essex girls.
      Moi? Pure as the driven snow. Of course.

      • We call those Jersey girls and we’ve a whole state full of ’em! Jersey Shore, anyone?

        • I think I’ve heard of Jersey Shore, but I’ve never seen it. Funny, but Jersey girls sounds better than Essex girls to me – Essex is a county, so there’s quite a few here. It isn’t why I moved to Suffolk, I hasten to add. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Misuse of grammar – how long have you got! My pet hates are saying ‘different to’ instead of ‘different from’, the use of the unneccesary apostrophe and the one you mention along with using of instead of with. Back in the dark ages when I was at school, all the teachers would immediately pounce upon any grammatical error and ask the class for the correction – now though, in an age of not being allowed to criticize anyone for anything I suppose such effective measures are frowned upon, ah well…

    • Yes, I have several other pet gripes and ‘of’ seems to figure in quite a few of them.
      The unnecessary apostrophe drives me mad and I’m happier to see it left out completely rather than put in where it doesn’t belong – especially in plurals. I have a friend who refuses to listen when I tell her you don’t need it in hostess’es. Grr!.
      There seem to be a few of us that identify here.
      I’m with you – let’s pounce on them!!

  6. Pat, you thought through it well. “Have” instead of “of” in this case is correct. Good job.

  7. We all do it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Halloween to you, too.

  8. With you all the way. The other thing that drives me mad in the way people mis-use the verb to lie. as in ‘ I went to lay down.’ instead of ‘lie down’ – or’ I was laying down’, instead of ‘lying down’, or ‘I was laid down’, instead of I was lying down…
    and that’s only a few of the ones I remember – it happens all the time !!!!!!

    • Actually, I have terrible problems with this: don’t ask me why. But I get blank spots on it. Frequently write one, think it looks wrong, write the other way, decide that looks wrong as well.
      Really weird. I can never make up my mind and frequently get it wrong. Takes about the third edit before I can look at it and think you stupid xxxx that’s not right!

  9. Readers have to realize that not all people speak in proper English. Either through lack of education, or for other reasons, correct usage of the language is often sacrificed for the purposes of being understood by one’s audience. Writers, especially those who rely heavily on dialogue, should, if they don’t already, pay attention to the actual language spoken on the streets. This can prove invaluable when trying to capture the essence of a character,

    Yes, “you should have had” is not grammatically correct, but it is unfortunately “English as she is spoke”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yup, don’t deny that. But English as she is spoke shouldn’t necessarily be written down. May and I think it is only may be ideal in dialogue, but should we be seeing it in the body of a novel, in a blog post, in letters? I don’t think so.
      But I’m glad I got your attention. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • In my opinion, the only time it should be used in writing is if the background of the character is such that “proper” English would be at variance with the circumstances.

        • Yay! Another convert! Agree. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Actually in my case it’s more like preaching to the choir, for this is how I try to write my characters. I realize that not every character will speak as if they are in a Victorian drawing room – some will be in a tap room ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Me too. I do try to listen to who they are and that dictates their actions and their words. Think we’re on the same wave length here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Pingback: {Weekly Writing Challenge} I wish I wereโ€ฆ | The Blog Farm - A Growing Blog Community

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