The Olympics start on Friday. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am excited beyond reason. I’m especially excited about the Olympic speedwalking. Yes, it’s a real event, and you need to Youtube it immediately. You can thank me later. I don’t think there’s really a way that I could’ve expressed my enthusiasm adequately.

olympic speedwalk

And yes, could’ve is an acceptable contraction. What is not acceptable is saying “could of” instead, because that is just plain wrong.

In speech, when you contract “could have,” “would have,” or “should have,” you end up with what sounds like, “could of,” “would of,” and “should of.” However, that is not what should be written. Contractions are abbreviations of words blending together. Can’t is a contraction of “cannot.” Won’t is a contraction of “will not.” The proper contracted forms of could/would/should have look like could’ve/would’ve/should’ve.


Write for fifteen minutes about a nervous competitor at the Olympics. Use the proper contracted forms of could/would/should have when applicable. Post your practice in the comments and leave notes for your fellow practicers.

Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.