Friday, March 24, 2017

Word Wrestle #9. You Shouldn't Of. No. Really, You Shouldn't Of.

Occasionally, when I write a book review, people pick on it. 
I know, right? Like, what's with THAT?

Seriously, however...I got picked on for taking an author to task for using the construction, "I should of," "I would of," and such.

I don't believe I even was the only one to ream this person out for that construction, but one particularly persnickety reader blasted me for that, among other things she thought were "obnoxious" about my review.

(Note: when someone starts out their comment by saying, "What an obnoxious review," you're probably not going to get much credit from them.  Just sayin'.)

Her contention? "This is how people talk. So you should write it that way."
My response? "It may sound like how people talk. But it's still not how a literate writer should write it."

In truth, when we say, "I should've done ____," we often do make the words sound like "should of." It's sloppy. But, then, a lot of people's conversation is sloppy.
The point is, however, that many things that sound a certain way in speech don't get written that way in prose, and this is one of those that should NOT. 
It's wrong.
It's wrong, no matter if it's in dialogue or not.

What the speaker is saying is "I should have," in a contraction form.
That contraction is never formed with the word of.
If that's how you're forming it because you're too lazy to get it right, you ought to be called out on it. 
You form that speech pattern with an apostrophe and the "ve" at the end.
For should've.
For would've.
For could've.

And no, this isn't  being needlessly pedantic. 
And no, it's not even being needlessly precise.
It's simply trying to write the English language the way the language is normally read.
If you put in "should of," you're putting a preposition in as part of a verb, a preposition that needs an object. A noun. Not a verb.

So if you say, "I should of come," not only does it sound like you're an idiot...it'll stop an intelligent reader every time. They'll stumble over it. 

(Note I said an intelligent reader. Since half the population writes this and doesn't seem to know it's wrong in the first place, you may not get a reaction from them at all. But that's not whom I write for, and I trust it's not whom you're writing for, either.)

Bottom line? It doesn't matter whether it "sounds" like that in speech or not.
In WRITING, it still has to be written to reflect what the person is actually saying.
Which is, "I would have," "I should have," "I could have," and so on.

Frankly? If you're going to mess around with that contraction, then do it with a recognized slang form of the words: woulda, shoulda, and coulda.

Everyone knows those.
Everyone recognizes them.
And slang, boys and girls, is vastly better than illiteracy.
And an author--any author--has gotta know better.  (heh heh)

Just use an apostrophe and a "ve"...and no one gets hurt.
Is that so much to ask?

Janny

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