Technology, grammar, and more technology.

"Of" after a contraction

I need to get something off my chest. I'm a bit of a spelling/grammar stickler (read: bad spelling and grammar burn me up inside), but I tend to let things go when I read them online. In this age of texting and instant communication, not everyone knows or cares about grammar, and if they do, they might not have time to fix it. That's fine, I guess. I hate it, but what can you do?

It sounds weird, but I don't think I'm the only one who cares. Right now I'm reading an international bestseller about punctuation. More recently, The Oatmeal's page about words you shouldn't misspell has 1.1 million shares on Facebook and 22,300 Tweets about it. That's reassuring, because I know someone, somewhere, cares as much as I do. Hell, by those numbers,  millions of someones in hundreds of somewheres care. That's a step in the right direction.

I love this so much. More here.

Anyway, thanks to stuff like that, many of my grammar/spelling pet peeves have been beaten to death. But there's one I'm seeing more often on the Internet, and it worries me. I'm talking about the dreaded "of" after a contraction.

Let's get some background here. As humans, we constantly speak in contractions. Nobody but a robot says, I am sorry I could not make it to your party; I was not feeling well. That's choppy, and conversational language is about quickly getting a point across. Native English speakers would say, I'm sorry I couldn't make it to your party; I wasn't feeling well. 

As a result of so many contractions, some people have things a little mixed up. Specifically, the word have tends to lose the ha- when you say it fast, and it sounds like of. For example:

I'd like to thank my stuffed platypus, Mortimer, for always being there for me. I couldn't of done it without you.

See that underlined bit? That's wrong. It's not of, it's a shortened version of have. You wouldn't say, I of never seen a stuffed platypus before. You'd say I've seen stuffed platypuses at every store from here to Kansas.

I'm not sure what the proper way to write this is, to be quite honest with you. If you want to write it how you speak, I suppose it would go something like:

You couldn't've gotten one here, I've looked everywhere.

But even that looks wrong, doesn't it? When I typed it out, it gave me a little red underline, so obviously a programmer somewhere didn't like it either. Not that they're the masters of language, but I would imagine Spell Check has a linguistic consultant or two on board.

So what to do?

Just use have. At the end of the day, you're only saving two letters by writing -'ve. One character, if you want to be picky, because there's still an apostrophe.

Plus, chances are you're posting on a social network, and many of those people know how you talk anyway. And as a bonus, if you use the word have instead of of, people who don't know how you talk will think you're pretty rad.

You know, because grammar is cool and stuff.

PS: A big thank you to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for this; if it hadn't been for all the poorly-written posts I read, I wouldn't of (son of a bitch, now I'm doing it too)ahemwouldn't have been able to write this post.


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