“Should have” vs. “should of”

“Should have” vs. “should of” -240140-edited.pngHave you ever found yourself typing “should of” instead of “should have”?

The mistake is an easy one to make if you don’t pay attention. The trouble is that “f” and “v” are corresponding letters. We make their sounds in almost exactly the same way. The only difference, in linguistic terms, is that one is “voiced” and the other “voiceless.”

Prove it to yourself by placing your hand lightly on your throat. Then make the sound of the letter “f,” noting exactly where you are positioning your tongue, teeth, and lips and how you are forcing the air from your lungs. Now switch to making the sound of the letter “v.” You’ll find the only real difference is that your throat is vibrating. That’s because you’ve tightened your vocal chords to make the column of air vibrate as you push it out of your lungs and through your lips.

It’s almost impossible to do on command: most people are baffled when they are asked to “vibrate their vocal chords.” And, in fact, this “voicing” of letters is one of the first features to be dropped when speakers make a sound. That explains why the contraction “should’ve” so easily sounds like “should of.” And that explains why the error creeps unconsciously into your writing.

To be clear: “should have” is correct, as in: “I should have copy edited my essay before handing it in.” “Should of,” on the other hand, doesn’t make grammatical sense, despite how close it sounds to “should’ve.”

There are other similarly corresponding pairs of letters in English. “T” “P” “K” are all voiceless.

Make their sounds, then try vibrating your vocal chords. If you’re successful you’ll figure out the corresponding sounds and make three more pairs just like “f/v.”

 

Scroll down for the answers!

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Answers:    1) T : D    2) P : B    3) K : G   

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