Common mistakes being replicated in English


I know I’m not a native speaker, but I need to address this.

I keep seeing “could of” and “would of” and “should of” in subs. We all make mistakes when we write, but I feel there is a pattern. I think the person volunteering (we all make mistakes, I support every volunteer, except for the Evil Googlators) doesn’t know the correct form, or I’m mistaken and it’s now acceptable in Standard English.

It’s one thing to make a mistake because we keep the structure of one language when we translate into another, because we might be tired or something, but isn’t there a grammar rule for this?

Unfortunately, I can’t point to a certain episode or sub, because it just caught my attention one too many times.

It doesn’t seem like it’s intentional, like the person portrayed is someone who would make this mistake as part of their characterization.

Any thoughts?


The correct form should be “could have,” “should have,” etc. “Could of” is acceptable in casual speech, but not in written form. Ideally, the English editors should have caught the mistakes and corrected them.


I would also think “could’ve” etc are acceptable, when translating dialogue.

I thought “could of” is a common mistake, and people really mean to say “could’ve”, I didn’t know it is considered acceptable.


You are correct on both accounts. “Could’ve” and “should’ve” are perfectly fine. Technically speaking, “could of” is grammatically incorrect. However, a lot of Americans (especially younger kids) do say it and it’s commonly accepted in casual speech. For example, I’d let my boy use it when he talks to me, but not when he has to write it down.


The only reason why I think the subber(s) are using the incorrect forms is because of how we say the words in real life. Practically every American-English speaker that I know uses the abbreviations “could’ve / should’ve / would’ve”, but it sounds exactly like “could OF / would OF / should OF”. Subbers usually write what they hear, right? So this might be the reason why they’re making so much mistakes.


Because youngsters don’t read much anymore.


@irmar Well, I’ve got to agree with you. From my perspective and as an American student, lots of American kids are lazy when it comes to studying. However, the adults are not as good, too. I’ve read countless posts on different social media sites by teens and adults, and their grammar is still not correct.

I’m not saying that Americans are dumb or anything, lol. We just use too much slang on text and while speaking, so that could contribute to why there are problems with things like “could’ve / could of”.


When I say “read”, I don’t necessarily mean school books. I very rarely opened my schoolbooks back in my school days (I relied on excellent memory and being attentive in class) but I was a voracious reader. (That was long before computers and internet, I’m speaking of the '70s).
When you read many books by writers with a good command of the language, seeing the same words and expressions over and over, used in many different contexts, you develop a visual memory of spelling, grammar and syntax, so that you effortlessly write them well yourself. I mean, except if you are dyslexic or something, it’s definitely going to help you.
That’s how I learned foreign languages as well. I had very few real lessons as such, and the English taught in school was a joke: but the moment I started reading books in those languages, that was it.


@irmar Mhm, I know what you meant. I was trying to say that the younger generation doesn’t read that much / focus on studying that much anymore.


Oh, I know that it sounds the same, it’s just that’s it’s too common a mistake for people who sub. I mean, I sometimes hear Americans clearly saying “of” because it’s so common they don’t know it’s wrong, as far as I can tell. I’ve seen in it Korean and Chinese dramas, so it’s more probable they just think this is the right way.


Ah, we were all young once… :slight_smile:

When I was at school (pre-internet era) and there weren’t many hobbies available except for reading books and going to the park, at least 70% of people my age (classmates and family, not everyone in one city) claimed that reading books is “nerdy, for retards, for losers etc”. I couldn’t care less, then or now, but I believe these people raised their children (today’s youngsters) with the same principles. So, of course a person makes their own choices, but it’s difficult to take up reading in a hostile environment. So, I’d give them a few years to find the path. :slight_smile:


I don’t mind slang too much. Parts of slang seep into the current norms and that’s how the language evolves and stays alive. But as long as something is “officially” wrong, maybe a general guideline would be useful?

Sometimes, it’s written that way (should of etc) because the writer wants to spell out that the reader is uneducated (think Game of Thrones peasants, it’s written like that all the time and I don’t think Martin doesn’t know his spelling :slight_smile: ), but it can’t be the case to all the subs I’ve noticed.


@glykeria I mean, it makes sense to me that these subbers are just writing what they hear because it’s what we use. It’s just that when it comes to the correct form of the slang, it’s like, “What is the correct form, again?”


Oh, you meant what they hear IRL. Sorry, I thought you meant what they hear in the video.

I’d read somewhere about Cockney in Victorian Era that they used to say that if you got it right you were already behind (or something like that, that the current form was always evolving) :slight_smile:


Actually, on a related note of slangs, subbing guidelines state that subbers are not to use slangs like “gonna” or “wanna”, but I was wondering if we could relax that rule a little, since the original speech is spoken very informally or in slang as well. After all, we try to use more polite speech when the context is formal, so shouldn’t we use more informal speech when the context is informal as well?


I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, I sub so a person who doesn’t know the language can have the experience I do. A good translator (not me) should be able to translate all the subtle nuances.

Example: When a new bride tells her mother-in-law “wanna cook together?” I should translate exactly that.

Wanna cook together?
Do you want to cook together?
Would you like to cook together?

makes all the difference in the world.

I think it is necessary to keep the original context whenever we can. This may be slang, profanities (I refuse to censor, I’m not a Delegate for the Clutch-Your-Pearls Consortium), casual speech, formal speech, idioms etc.


To be honest,I feel like it wouldn’t make that much of a difference if they read. A lot of YA authors are terrible writers. As a high school student, I have a hard time finding well-written, contemporary fiction.That’s just my opinion, though.

I’ve found some pretty terrible grammatical errors in school textbooks as well - and those are written by teachers!


:’) Same

On a side note, though, I think they should be a little more lenient on their rules for finding an editor. One drama I came to sign up for as an English editor required that you either be fluent in both Korean and English or that you are a professional editor.

Is that really necessary? I’m sure you can be fluent in English without being a professional editor.

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@youraverageangel I know right. There are times when I see “professional” editors who have worse grammar than me… :worried: yikes


omg high school!!! so cute!!! sorry. little ones are always cute.