The “woulda, coulda, shoulda” edition.
CaliforniaTeacherGuy sent me an email on Sunday asking me to “deal with this, oh, please, on Grammar Wednesday!” (that was actually the title of his email). He said:
“I would of had to purchase it anyways.”
This quote come from an educator’s blog. (I will not say which one.) Two egregious errors in one short sentence! I find it sad–no, appalling–that people who are teaching children can’t even get their grammar straight. Is there no hope for the future of lucid speech and writing?
First of all, I have to say that, yes, my first reaction to this sentence was the same as CTG’s. When I thought about it for a few minutes, though, I came to have a softer approach. We should all keep in mind that blogs are NOT the classroom. Someone who writes in IM-speak on their blogs may well be highly literate and correct in their professional settings. I’m willing to cut most people quite a bit of slack where these sorts of things are concerned.
Now, having said that, I should also point out that I don’t know a SINGLE educator who would say – or type – “would OF,” regardless of the forum in which they were communicating.
My students write this all the time. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the most groan-worthy error they make, but it’s still wrong and I try to get to it as soon as possible in the class.
I understand WHY they do (it comes from the contraction “would’ve” – they’re writing what they think they’re hearing) but I make a point of trying to break them of it right away. I put “would/could/should HAVE” on the board, then put the same words with the contraction, then write a big “OF” with the circle and the slash around it. We talk about how it sounds and about what they’re actually hearing (the ‘ve’ of the contraction, not the ‘of’ of , well, OF!). It’s actually a lesson where quite a few light bulbs go off, and a couple of students have come to me thanking me for clearing that up (they also really love the Vulcan salute and that I underline the “position” in preposition – that helps them understand the function of that part of speech).
The other bit of that sentence – the “anyways,” – is a little harder to put down: yes, it’s a non-standard structure (derived, according to my source, from southern and south-midland American dialects), but it’s been used so much that it has become part of the casual language.
As a compound word – anyway – it functions as an adverb that means, essentially, nonetheless or regardless. Take the words apart – any way - and they mean in whatever fashion.
The way to tell which to use is to ask if “in the” can be substituted for “any.” If you can make the substitution, use any way: if you can’t, use anyway (and, regardless of which you’re doing, don’t make it plural. Drop the ‘s,’ please! Mrs. Chili and California Teacher Guy thank you).
It was pouring rain, but we went to the beach anyway. It was pouring rain, but we went to beach (in the) way? No – use the compound word.
You can get there any way you want: by car, by bus, or by train. You can get there (in the) way you want? Yes – use two words.
Next week, we’ll tackle CTG’s question about adverb placement.
Happy Wednesday, Everyone!