I'm confused why there is a red underline when I shorten certain words.

Words which are OK:

I've, You've, We've

Words which have a red underline, meaning they're wrong:

Should've, Will've, Shall've

Why are the above words wrong?

  • 2
    You cannot trust or rely upon an internet browser or spell checker to identify and correct mistakes. All the words that had the red lines are correct in format and spelling , although will've and shall've are rare. In general, a search engine is better at correcting spelling mistakes than a browser or spell checker. A dictionary is the best tool.
    – user6951
    Jul 13, 2014 at 14:50
  • Search engines and dictionaries aren't reliable tools for this purpose.
    – user230
    Jul 13, 2014 at 15:02
  • Shortened forms such as 've or 'll are used mainly after personal pronouns (I you he etc), not after auxiliary or modal verbs. You won't have seen "I can've".
    – rogermue
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


This may reflect your spell/grammar software's inadequacies—it may not recognize these contractions. See our Canonical Post on this subject.

However, if you actually typed these words with initial capitals, it is possible that the software is correct. There is no reason to capitalize these words in the middle of a sentence, and none of these constructions ordinarily appears at the beginning of a formal written sentence. In Standard English only the first auxiliary in a verb group is inverted with the subject: we write Should I have done it? rather than Should have I done it?, and so forth. Even in conversation you rarely hear Shoulda X with a pronoun X, only with fairly "heavy" subjects like or “Shoulda General Eisenhower relieved Patton?” or “Shoulda the Poplar Street Bridge been closed?” Those are colloquial constructions which few grammar checkers are likely to be able to distinguish.

  • 1
    I would thwack anybody who tried to use "shoulda" like that.
    – Hellion
    Jul 13, 2014 at 17:42
  • 1
    @Hellion In these parts your arm would get mighty tired. Jul 13, 2014 at 19:09
  • 1
    That's a price I'm willing to pay.
    – Hellion
    Jul 13, 2014 at 22:23
  • Depending on your word processor, sometimes grammar errors are flagged in green and spelling errors in red. So this might be a spelling issue.
    – J.R.
    Jul 14, 2014 at 0:27
  • 1
    @AmitJoki I don't use Chrome's spellchecker so I can't say; but I have no reason to think it is infallible. Jul 14, 2014 at 13:50

It's hard to say what the "rules" are for what contractions are legal. People rarely say "should've", etc, and almost never write them, because they are awkward to pronounce.

Most contractions eliminate a syllable. "Can not" is two syllables, "can't" is one, so you've made your language a little more concise. But "should have" is two syllables, and "should've" ends up being pronounced "should-uv" or sometimes "should-ah", which is still two syllables, so you've saved nothing. (You sometimes see less educated people write "should of" to represent such a contraction.) Well, I suppose it's a little "smoother" to say "should-ah" then "should have", less change in position of the jaw, but the gain is small.

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