Wondering whether to use ‘could have’ or ‘could of’? And what is the difference between the two? We can help clear that up, plus teach you how to use the correct version of the phrase in a sentence.
In short, the correct spelling of this common phrase is ‘could have.’ You should never use ‘could of.’ It’s a common error made by writers and sounds correct based on the way we pronounce the phrase, but the correct spelling is always ‘could have.’
As you just learned, ‘could of’ should never be used. The only correct way to spell this phrase is ‘could have.’
If you think about the words, ‘could of’ doesn’t make grammatical sense when the two words are put together.
There’s no way to form a sentence correctly and grammatically with that phrase. Therefore, you should avoid using it in your writing.
The short answer is no. There’s no acceptable way to say the phrase except ‘could have.’ So, don’t use it in your writing in any case.
The phrase ‘could have’ could be defined as something that was possible in the past, even though it didn’t happen.
Example: You could have been killed.
It’s also used as part of at least three idioms:
Wondering how to pronounce this phrase? Here’s a short guide.
Now that we know what it means and how to pronounce it let’s see how to use the phrase in a sentence correctly.
To recap, ‘could of’ is not an acceptable or alternative way to say ‘could have.’ Never use it in your writing because it’s incorrect and ungrammatical.
If you ever forget what it means or how to use it, you can always come back for a quick refresher. We’ve got a ton of content on other confusing words and phrases as well, so don’t be afraid to go check it out.