Tag Archives: Of

Jumping off of a couple points

Two nations, divided by a common language. I’m not sure where Canada fits into that, and I’m not sure if what I’m about to describe is a North American thing, a Canadian one or just a new development in the great life of the language (in which case, shudder). Anyway, it’s wrong according to the grammar rules I was taught, and therefore worthy of a post.

The word “of” is a preposition. If you streamlined language to the extreme, it could probably go. We’ve already found one way to get rid of it in English which the French lack. We say Elmo’s Blog; they say The Blog of Elmo. But mercifully we haven’t got rid of of entirely. We just harbour some people who misuse it.

Couple needs of

It makes me grind my teeth when someone says “a couple [noun]”. Colloquially, “couple of” can be shortened, but the replacement is “coupla”, not “couple”. You can, of course, say “a couple” and stop: I think they are a couple or I’ll have a couple.

But couple + [noun] needs of in the middle. I’ll have a couple of those, for example.

Out needs of

Again, there are plenty of examples when out can be used without of. eg I’m going out.

But out + [noun] needs of in the middle. I’m looking out of the window or He jumped out of the car.

Off DOESN’T

I’m sorry if this is confusing. It doesn’t make any sense to me either, but it’s the rules (Addendum: An eagle-eyed reader has caught me at my own game there. Those (pl) are (pl) the rules (pl). Too right. Or “Them’s the rules if we’re being colloquial). The speed limits in this country don’t make any sense to me either, but if I break them, I expect to get a ticket. Well, consider this post to be the limit signs.

Although you jump out OF a car if you’re inside it, if you are for some crazy reason sitting on the roof, you jump off it. No of.

This one doesn’t suffer from the same exceptions as the two above. In fact, you can probably do a find/replace on your documents to nuke this. The only time I can imagine of legitimately following off without some punctuation in between is if off is being used in a compound noun, for example “The switching off of the lights”. And that’s a pretty weird bit of phrasing anyway!

 

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Should of known better

Many of the difficulties of grammar stem from learning by listening. Most of us learn language this way first – by listening to our parents and carers – and it works pretty well. But it can lead to confusion where letters or words sound the same.

One example of this is the phrase “I should of…”

“Should of” is a corruption from “Should have” or more likely “Should’ve”. It’s wrong, plain and simple. There is no such phrase as “Should of” and I can’t think of a circumstance where these two words would ever need to sit next to each other.

Of is a preposition, Have is a verb.

“Should” is an auxiliary verb, and will always be followed by a verb. E.g. “I should think”, “You should go”, “We should be happy”.  The only exception to this would be if the verb were separated from should by a sub-clause, which is also the only occasion I can imagine where “of” would follow it. However, even then, they should, of course, be separated by a comma.

So, if you want a simple rule, here it is: The phrase is “should have” (or shall have, will have, would have, can have, could have) and NEVER of.

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Filed under Grammar Rules Simplified