Your best bet: Could’ve vs. could of

Here’s a writing tip you can take to the races.

Sometimes we’ve misheard an expression all through our lives and then repeat that error in our writing. Could of, should of and would of are fine examples of this.

The correct spelling actually is could’ve, should’ve and would’ve. That’s because the words actually are contractions for could have, should have and would have.

When spoken, the ‘ve often sounds like of. If you think about it, though, of doesn’t makes sense. Of indicates a relationship between a part and a whole, as in the sleeve of a shirt. In the sentence Uncle Jim should’ve bet on a different horse, there’s nothing to show a relationship between.