Topic: Why Shoulda, Coulda, Should of, Would of? | English Speaking Habits

Pronouncing Modal Verbs in the Past


Modal verbs? What? As English speakers, we have lots of funny speech habits. To the average person, they may not seem like a big deal. But what about those that have decided to take on learning this complex language?

“Take on me-e … take me o-on!”

You can almost hear English singing in the shower. You might have heard such words as “shoulda” or “coulda” before. Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

What are Modal Verbs, after all?

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary (or helping) verb. This just means their purpose is to help other verbs to make sense. Modal verbs themselves are used to show a necessity or possibility. These are words like could, should, may, might, would, and so on.

In the past tense, modal verbs are often followed by the word “have.” This lets us know they are modals instead of a regular past tense verb. How do we know that “could” is acting like the past tense of “can,” or if it is expressing a possibility? We know it’s a possibility when it’s next to “have.” Look at this:

  • When I was younger, I could run a mile without stopping. (past tense of “can”)
  • I could have been a track star. (past tense of the modal verb “could,” shows a possibility)

Remember, modals don’t always need “have.” Adding it is used to show that this necessity or possibility was in the past. The same goes with should have, may have, might have, would have, and more.

You Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda … Used Correct Grammar

The habit I told you about earlier is that many people turn “have” into a simple shwa sound (“uh”) when talking. They basically get rid of the “h” and “v” sounds. This makes could have sound like coulda.

  • I coulda been a track star. (could have)

This is so common that we have an expression to mimic this; shoulda, coulda, woulda. Or coulda, shoulda, woulda. Woulda, coulda, shoulda? I guess it doesn’t really matter what order you say it in. Some people say this to express when it’s too late to do something and the opportunity has passed. Similar expressions are “that’s too bad,” “too late,” or “keep dreaming.” 

 — You know, I could have been a track star.

 — Yeah! Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Should of, Could of, Would of

To take it a step further, “have” can completely change and turn into “of.” This isn’t grammatically correct, but it happens because some people might pronounce the “could-a” like “could-uv.” This happens when we mean to contract “could have” and say “could’ve.” The pronunciation of the “of” sounds very similar to that final “ve” sound, so it’s easy to confuse the two in everyday speech. Many people who even know the correct grammar might make a mistake when writing or speaking and say “of” instead of the short “‘ve” because of how easy it is to switch the two. 

More info:

  • ‘Should have’ and ‘should of’ on Quora

*Try saying could of and could’ve out loud. Do you notice how similar they sound? 

Here are some more examples!

See, you shoulda / should of been more careful. 

I coulda / could of been a millionaire. 

She musta / must of been crazy to adopt a lion.


Thank you for reading! Check the Blog to see similar posts.

**Have a question about another English speaking habit? Is there something you don’t understand about the way people talk? Tell me about it and I’ll write a post for you, and offer other resources to better understand!

Contact me to collaborate or send a personal message at tietewaller@gmail.com or go to the Give Me Shout! page.

Contracting Words with ‘Of’ – English Speech Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, doubts about contracting words with 'of' in English speech
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In English, like in any language, we speakers have some funny habits when it comes to using the language. Hey, at least it adds some character, am I right? Today I want to dwell a bit on this thing we do when we contract a quantifier word with the word “of”. This is similar to what happens when we combine “want to (wanna).” But first thing’s first; what in the Anglo-ing world is a quantifier?? Well, quantifiers are words that indicate a quantity (no, really!) or in other words, an amount of something. 

Contracting Quantifiers with ‘Of’

Some examples of this are: a little, a lot, many, some, a few

Read more about the types of quantifiers:

When describing an amount (or quantity) of something, some of these words are followed by “of.” 

  • a lot of cake; some of the cake; a bit of cake

Keep in mind, this is not all the time. Many quantifiers and some of their uses don’t have an “of” after them. 

  • some cake; a few cakes; many cakes

*“Some cake” and “some of the cake” can mean the same thing. Although, usually “some of the cake” sounds more specific (a piece of a specific cake) while “some cake” sounds more general (a piece of any cake)

When there is an “of” behind those quantifiers that need it, some speakers have a habit of combining the quantifier word with “of.” In this way, it forms a contraction. 

  • There’s a lotta cake left in the fridge. (a lot of)
  • Do you want to take home somma this cake? (some of)

This is more common in speech and when people are talking quickly. This habit is not a rule though, and these words are almost never spelled in the contracted way except in very informal text. It is also not universal and not everyone has this habit. Still, it is fairly common and a good thing to be aware of, say, when you talk with native speakers or watch TV. 

This plays into the larger trend of changing short words with the “shwa” sound (uh, like ‘of’, ‘to’, ‘the’) and just contracting them with a bigger word.

The most popular one of these you’ll notice in day-to-day speech will most likely be kinda. As a quantifier, it has about the same meaning as “somewhat” or “a little bit.”


Examples

Here are some other common instances of contracting quantifiers with “of.”

a bunch of

  • They’re a buncha sore losers. (They’re a bunch of sore losers.)

some of

  • Do you want somma my fries? (Do you want some of my fries?)

kind of (used as a quantity)

  • I kinda like him. (I kind of like him.)

a couple of

  • They’re just a coupla / couple’a guys hanging out. (They’re just a couple of guys hanging out.)

enough of

  • Okay, I’ve had enough’a this. (Okay, I’ve had enough of this.)

all of

  • Oh no! All’a / all’o the food is gone. (Oh no! All of the food is gone.)

We thank you for reading and learning new things! Feel free to explore more posts here on Cult-surf. Similar posts can be found on the Blog. Enjoy yourselves, and take care out there!

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Careful looking outward – How to use expressions with ‘Watch’ (watch out, watch it, & more)

Looking at a kangaroo juggle fire can be interesting. But watching a kangaroo juggle fire is a lot better. The difference between “look” and “watch” is often a struggle for English learners to understand, but consider this; “watching” is like “looking” more attentively.

Look = just using your eyes to observe something.

Watch = looking at something and paying attention to / processing what is happening.

Watch

That’s part of the idea behind some informal meanings of “watch.” In some situations, people may use watch as a way to tell someone to be careful. This relates to someone paying attention, usually because they’re being a little careless.

  • Watch your step. The sidewalk is very uneven here.

Watch it

This is similar to the term watch it which has the same meaning, telling someone to be careful. When said in a disciplinary tone, it can be used to warn someone about their (bad) behavior too.

  • Watch it. The drivers at this intersection don’t check for pedestrians.
  • You better watch it! I told you to stop being rude.

Watch yourself / your back / your mouth + more

Oftentimes, “watch it” can be short for expressions like watch your mouth or watch yourself. All of these have the same general meaning of being careful with what you say. We usually say this to people who are acting wildly, saying offensive things or simply behaving badly. You may also hear people use several variations of this, like “watch what you say,” “watch your words,” “watch your tone,” “watch your back,” and so on. That last one, by the way, is more of a threat than the others.

  • Nina from third period called you ugly? I hope you told her to watch her mouth.
  • Excuse me, Sir! You are being extremely rude. You need to watch yourself.
  • You better watch your back when you come around here next time.

Watch out!

Another precautionary expression that is pretty popular is watch out. Telling someone to “watch out” is the same as saying be careful. This is usually because something is putting them in danger, although the danger could be physical or otherwise. When telling someone to be careful about something specific, we would tell them to “watch out for” that thing.

  • Whenever they tell George of the Jungle to “watch out for that tree,” he always ends up hitting it anyway.

Those are some of the key points you’ll want to know about the expressions using “watch.” How would you use these in a sentence? Have you heard these expressions before? Let us hear your thoughts!

Below is a short story, part of the Adventures of Charles series where we explore the above terms in their everyday usage. If you like stories and want to get some reading practice in, I encourage you to read along!


Careful looking outward – Short Story

Nothing could be heard but the rush of the wind blowing into the open windows. The sight, on the other hand, was much more beautiful. There was a mountain on one side covered in emerald grass and a few heads of cactus; the dark gray asphalt extended and curved out ahead of them, lined down the middle with yellow stripes the whole way; the crashing waves of the ocean burst onto the rocky shores. The most scenic part of it all that Charles could place his eyes on was Sheila, who was sitting next to him in the driver’s seat.

–All right! You ready to drive? she asked him.

–Who, me? Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t driven since I came to this country. I don’t really feel safe.

–Come on, it’s like riding a bike! Sheila insisted.

The two hopped out of the blue BMW M and traded seats. Charles suddenly noticed how new and, especially, how fast the car looked.

–You’ll do fine. Just don’t crash us into the ocean.

Sheila said this as a joke, but it didn’t make him feel any better. Charles started the car, shifted gear, and drove off. For a minute he felt pretty comfortable. Hey, I could get the hang of this. He was so relaxed that he started looking off at the waves, the green hillside, and got stuck on Sheila’s charming face. From the cheeks to the eyes, down to the nose, and then the chin …

–Make sure you watch the road, yeah?

Charles suddenly jerked the steering wheel, making the whole car jump until he could settle it. At that moment, a big rig truck started coming at them from the other direction.

Watch it

When he saw the truck hurling his way, Charles panicked and turned sharply onto a narrow stony road. He kept going from there.

–I’ll hand it to you. I never have come down this road, Sheila said in a sarcastic tone.

–Where did I take us? Oh, son of a–

–Hey! Watch your mouth. There’s a lady present.

Sheila snickered at her own comment. Charles pulled the car over to contemplate. After about a minute, they noticed a rumbling coming over the countryside. They both looked at each other, like, What is that? A few dark spots peeked over the green pastures until the hills were suddenly covered with them. One of the creatures ran towards the BMW, apparently interested in the vibrant paint job.

–What are those things? asked Charles.

–You’ve never seen these? They’re called bison, I think.

And bison, they were. A curious cow nearest them was licking Sheila’s rearview mirror, comically trying to check her teeth. She gave a hard sneeze and fogged the mirror, then she ran away to graze on some grass.

Sheila then said, –Hey, I’ve got an idea. Put the car into reverse, and try to make it back to the highway.

–Why reverse? Charles replied. –Can’t I just go straight?

–There’s a lot more bison ahead of us, and if you scare them they might stampede. You just have to steer, you’ll be fine.

–That’s what you said the last time.

Sucking up all the confidence he could find, he put the car into reverse and started backing up. The bison initially weren’t interested in the two of them at all. That was until Charles accidentally revved up the motor really loud, and all the bison started to scatter.

–Go faster, faster! We have to get out of here!

Charles steered one way and Sheila grabbed the wheel trying to steer another. The bumps and stones on the ground made the car jump and shake uncontrollably. They crisscrossed through bison, being extra careful (or extra lucky) not to hit any of them. After being nearly frightened to death, somehow Charles was able to get them past the maze of bison and onto the highway again. To Sheila’s surprise though, one stray bison had made its way onto the pavement, and a car was coming right at it.

Watch out, little bison! she yelled.

The sound of screeches and the smell of hot rubber filled the air around them. Charles and Sheila shut their eyes in horror. When they opened them again, they were surprised to see the other car stopped to a complete halt. The bison, probably the same cow that had come to Sheila’s car, was at the other car now, licking the rearview mirror as before.

–Oh, thank God, Sheila sighed. –That was too close.

Charles looked at her now, smiling.

–So, how did I do? Ready to drive back?

Sheila was quick to respond, “Ohh, that is okay. I’d better take over on this one.”

Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving (part 2) – English List

dark Porsche car driving at sunset, related to the topic of words about cars and driving
Peter Miranda

Welcome to this version of English List. Cars have had such a huge impact on that language–the English one–and we’re here to prove it! This is part 2 of Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving, including some terms that can be used for both vehicles and other life situations.

For English students, these can be a cool way for you to liven up your word choice and vocabulary. Otherwise, you may just like driving cars or be an awesome English-speaking person that loves to learn. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to give your own examples, ask questions, give feedback, do whatever!

Alrighty, let’s get rolling.

Read Part 1: Some Everyday Expressions about Cars & Driving

Full Tank

Powered up

It’s easy to imagine the benefits of a full tank of gas. Similarly, when talking about people, we can say that person has a full tank. This is like saying that they are full of energy, ready to go, and pumped full of enthusiasm. There’s also the expression “on full,” which is the opposite of “on E” (on empty). Careful, though! “On F” isn’t quite a popular expression (yet).

No stopping … no stopping

  • Let’s make sure the truck’s got a full tank so we don’t have to stop the whole trip.
  • He has been running for hours and is still on a full tank! Can you believe it?

Roll up (the window)

Windows shut

This one may sound obvious, but it might not be so for English learners. When talking about making the window go up in a car, we can say roll the window up or roll up the window (it works the same for “down” too). Roll up by itself also has a multitude of meanings. It can be as simple as “to roll something” or to “arrive or go somewhere.”

Read also: Roll out, rolling, & other expressions

Getting there

  • Can you please roll the window up? It’s freezing in here!
  • I have to roll up my clothes so that they can fit in my suitcase.
  • Do you feel like rolling up to my cousin’s house? You know, she’s the one with the big TV.

Junk in the trunk

Big things in the back

This phrase is near and dear to many English speakers. Literally, it refers to having too much “junk”, or lots of random and useless objects, in the trunk of one’s car. Junk in the trunk can also be used to talk about people, especially women, saying that they have a big behind. This is actually the first thing that will come to mind to most English speakers when this silly phrase is said.

It is a very playful expression, used mostly with people we are really comfortable with, and it can be a really funny thing to say.

A beautiful mess

  • Do you know if Tyler has any jumper cables? There’s so much junk in his trunk, I can’t find it.
  • Mark told me I had a lot of junk in my trunk. Uh, I think he likes me.

Backseat driver

No driving from the back

Just picture it: you are riding along happily in your car, not a care in the world. Suddenly, you hear a voice from the back seat telling you to turn your blinkers on before you switch lanes. That’s decent advice, but still, nobody likes a backseat driver.

This expression is used to refer to someone who is giving instructions or directions but is “out of line” to. Maybe they are unqualified, or maybe they just weren’t a part of the conversation, to begin with.

Input from the sidelines

  • I thought to tell you to slow down, but I didn’t want to be a backseat driver.
  • The parents on the other team are such backseat drivers. They should just let the coaches do their jobs, right?

Down the road

What is to come

Driving is a lot more comfortable when you can see far down the road. This expression refers to what is ahead of you, further down the street. In a figurative sense, it means what is ahead in life, as opposed to the actual street or highway. Still, it’s a very useful idiom to know.

Looking forward

  • There’s a new Chipotle that opened up down the road. Want to try it?
  • You should always be prepared because you never know what might happen down the road.

U-turn

Turn it around

When driving, some people get the sudden urge to want to completely change directions on the road. That round 180-degree change is called making a U-turn. Likewise, people can make a “U-turn” in life as they completely change directions or go back to old habits.

Another very informal way of saying this is making a U-ey. (Some also say “pulling” a U-ey, “busting” a U-ey, “flipping” a U-ey, it’s all the same)

Bring it back

  • Sheryl was so happy in retirement. Now, all of a sudden, she did a big U-turn and went back to teaching again.
  • Do you think we can make a U-ey on this road? I think we can.

Run out of steam

Steam-less

No one wants this. When you’re driving and the car suddenly stops working. Apparently it’s got no more gas, no power, and everything says that is has run out of steam. The same idea can go for people when they don’t have the smallest bit of energy left in them.

Run until the running’s done

  • Boy, I sure hope this old truck doesn’t run out of steam before we make it home.
  • Alex started the day off full of energy, but now she looks like she ran out of steam.

Driving (me) nuts!

Nuts and (crazy) berries

Many people like to drive, while others get enraged by it. Driving someone nuts is the same as making them feel crazy. Other ways to say this are driving someone “mad,” driving someone “crazy”, driving someone “bananas,” and driving someone “coocoo”, among others.

This “driving” is usually used with negative emotions, so you would not say “driving me happy,” for example.

Ja-Making me crazy!

  • Is this Camila Cabello? Oh no, her music drives my brother insane.
  • I can’t handle being around kids while they’re crying. They drive me nuts!

Read more expressions about cars and driving: Hubpages


**Thank you for reading! Do you know any other car-related expressions or phrases? Can you use them in a sentence? Feel welcome, this is your place!

Contact for personal messages, English advice, or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com (Contact Page)

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Peace & love, y’all!

Contracting verbs with “to”, Wanna, Gonna, Hadda & more – Speaking Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, asking questions without auxiliary in English

There’s a dirty habit that English speakers have … okay, it’s not that terrible. Still, when many people speak, they have a habit of contracting certain verbs if they come before the word “to.” These verbs usually stand ahead of another verb that is in its infinitive form, which is the most basic (e.g. to love, to go, to see). Here, I’m talking about the verb that comes before these infinitive forms. Read some examples to see what I mean:

Examples – connecting verbs with “to”

  • I wanna help you.

(“Want to” might get fused together, so this sounds more like, “wanna”)

  • You hadda say that, didn’t you?

(You had to say that, didn’t you?)

  • You hafta help me, please!

(You have to help me, please!)

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Or, do you want more info? Look at this article on RealLifeGlobal.com along with the video below.

http://reallifeglobal.com/.

This might happen because the word “to” is normally pronounced as a “shwa” or a short “uh” sound. When people are speaking, it can be a drag to pronounce every letter and word. So, they get bunched together and form into a new word. It’s similar to how “would have” can turn into “would’ve.”

One thing to remember is that this fusing the verbs before “to” doesn’t work all the time. You might have to pay attention to which words this is used most commonly. Also, unlike with “would’ve,” hafta, wanna, and hadda are just how these words are pronounced in speech. They aren’t proper English, though, so you shouldn’t write these words on a paper or test (but they’re fine in text messages or social media).

Some other noteworthy examples of these contractions I’m sure you’ve all heard before are gonna and gotta.

More examples

  • They’ve gotta be kidding.

(They’ve got to be kidding.)

  • No one told you what’s gonna happen?

(No one told you what’s going to happen?)

  • She hasta help her mom first.

(She has to help her mom first.)

Thank you all for reading! I hope you learned something. Read the Blog for other posts like this about English habits. Go ahead and share a comment with us if you’ve heard this habit before. And as always, take care out there. Peace! ☮️

That’s ‘Wack!’ Video Quick Examples – English Expressions

A film projector in the dark, representing a short video about the use of the expression "wack"
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Hello, English learners and enthusiasts. We have this expression or slang word called:

Wack!

This word is used to describe things that are boring, not interesting, of bad quality, or simply not fun. The video below shows how you might use or hear it in normal speech, so please check that out. Let me know what you think! Sorry, my hair was kind of crazy that day. 😀

In the Urban Dictionary

Watch more Videos

Read “wack” in a short story

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