Would of, Could of, Should of

This one has been on my list since high school. I think it was sophomore year, and much of our English classes that year focused on poetry. I never got poetry. Other people seemed to instantly get the meaning behind each poem we studied and were able to identify even the most obscure symbolism. Clearly, the bird represents the human spirit and the water means Jesus! Cue to everyone in the class nodding in agreement. Huh, what? How did they get that? Wait, there was a bird?

Part of the class was to write our own poem. My poem was beyond terrible. I accept that. I used absolutely no symbolism. Although, there was a bird. One of the guys in the class had written an incredible, albeit bird-less, poem. At least, I was told it was incredible. This amazing poem was printed in large font and displayed proudly on the bulletin board behind my desk in the back row. (Tip for high school students: the back row is a good place to properly observe agreement head-nodding, so as to follow suit and not look like the poetry idiot you are.) Right smack in the middle of the poem was the line “He would of gone to the lake” in big bold letters, and right above the poem was a big red star with an A+ and a “100%!!” (the exclamation points are the teacher’s) to add insult to injury. I think the misspelling of “would’ve / would have” could have been grounds to knock off at least one percentage point, right? The error wasn’t even noted! I had to sit under that dang thing for three months. It drove me nuts. Obviously, I was not cool at all in high school. Grammar nerds aren’t invited to a lot of happening parties. Maybe you high schoolers should disregard my previous seating tip. Because I can only assume that the bulk of the readership for my snooty grammar blog consists of teenagers.