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Are You Making This Common Grammar Mistake?
Written by
Maria Murnane
October 2017
Written by
Maria Murnane
October 2017

We learn to speak before we learn to read and write, so when we begin to  put words onto a page it's easy to confuse those that sound the same  (also known as homonyms or homophones).

For example:

  • Bred, bread
  • Plane, plain
  • Great, grate
  • Led, lead
  • To, two, too
  • There, they're, their

While the above words sound exactly the same all the time, two that don't, but which I've noticed people frequently confuse, are OF and HAVE. 

How so, some of you might be asking? OF and HAVE don't sound anything alike!

Actually they do. Read the following sets of sentences out loud and decide which is correct:

  1. I should HAVE gone to the movies. 
  2. I should OF gone to the movies. 
  3. I should've gone to the movies.


  1. You could HAVE given me a little more notice. 
  2. You could OF given me a little more notice. 
  3. You could've given me a little more notice.


  1. We should HAVE paid more attention in English class.
  2. We should OF paid more attention in English class. 
  3. We should've paid more attention in English class.

When you say the above sentences out loud, they sound identical, right?

But  when written down they're not the same, not even close. In each example  1 and 3 are correct, and 2 makes no sense. (Each 3 is a contraction of  the 1.)

Just  like mixing up the words I listed at the beginning of this post is no  big deal when speaking because no one can tell the difference, mixing up  HAVE and OF when speaking won't raise any eyebrows. But people can tell the difference when reading, so be careful! 


Maria Murnane writes bestselling novels about life, love and friendship. Have questions? You can find her at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2017 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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