Could of; Could have; Could’ve
How many times have you seen someone write ‘I could of done better’, ‘I should of taken greater care’, ‘I might of been late’.
All are very common – but all are very wrong!
They should read ‘I could have done better’, ‘I should have taken greater care’, ‘I might have been late’.
The mistake originates from writing down exactly what you hear.
In normal speech we would say ‘I could’ve done better’ (short for ‘could have’), ‘I should’ve taken greater care’ (short for ‘should have’) and ‘I might’ve been late‘ (short for ‘might have’).
In each case, the ‘ve’ sounds like ‘of’ when spoken, but it should be ‘have’, not ‘of’, when written down.
We are so used to inserting an apostrophe to denote possession, that we sometimes write it’s when we should say its.
The cat’s tail may be long and fluffy but its purr is smooth and mellow.
You write it’s only when a letter has been omitted, as in it is or it has.
It’s a nice day; it’s been fun spending it with you.
When something belongs to it, you should always write its without an apostrophe.
There; their; they’re
There is nothing in the cupboard – their cupboard is empty so they’re in danger of starving. There you have it!
In the case of they’re, the apostrophe indicates that a letter has been omitted. They’re is short for they are.
I am your friend; you’re my friend.
As with they’re, the apostrophe replaces an omitted letter. You’re is short for you are.