Natives, what's the PDE grammar around double contractions like "couldn't've", "mustn't've" "shouldn't've" or "needn't've"? Are they in use in formal or informal English and in spoken or written English and can we non-natives use them?

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    They might be spoken like that, but are written as couldn't have etc. However in PDE we increasingly see (on forums and social media) couldn't of which is phonetic but strictly ungrammatical. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 17:34
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    You might be interested in this answer to the similar English StackExchange question Can a word be contracted twice? Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 17:40
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    They are in use and I have seen them used. I would not say they are ungrammatical as I can't think of any rule they break. My favorite example is "ya'll'll" for "you all will".
    – Peter Flom
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:25
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    Such spellings (couldn't've) are relatively rare. Such pronunciation, on the other hand, is common.
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:45
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    I agree with @Tᴚoɯɐuo and couldn't have said it any better. Are they in use? That depends on what you mean by "in use" – you'll hear them relatively frequently, but see them [in print] only on very rare occasions.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


They are used in spoken English and can be used in writing too, although this is not common.

This can be seen in the BBC English course and also in Wiktionary.

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