How to Use Should Have, Could Have & Would Have (Lots of Fun Examples!)

should have could have would have - advanced english grammar

Alright, it’s time for some advanced English grammar!

But as you know, here at tofluency we do things in a fun way. In this latest lesson, you’re going to learn how to use should have, could have and would have through some real life examples.

Click play below or watch it on YouTube here.

How to Use Should Have, Could Have and Would Have

Should Have

Should have is mainly used to give advice for past events. This is hypothetical. What an ideal action was in the past. Something that wasn’t done.

should have gone to bed earlier to run a raceThe first example I gave was this: imagine that my wife is running a big race tomorrow morning. I say: you should go to bed early tonight.

But in the morning, she comes downstairs and looks exhausted. She stayed up late and watched TV. I say to her: you should have gone to bed earlier. You shouldn’t have watched TV so late.

Here are more examples:

  • You should have gone to bed earlier.
  • I shouldn’t have said that.
  • I shouldn’t have drunk so much.
  • He should have scored there.
  • I shouldn’t have bought that jacket.

Could Have

We use could have when we’re talking about something that we had the ability to do but didn’t do it.

The first example I gave was this: I could have gone to Newcastle University, but I went to Leeds instead.

This says that Newcastle University accepted me as a student, but I didn’t go.

We often use could have with an element of criticism. For example, my friends threw a huge party but only invited me after it started. I tell them: you could have invited me earlier!

We also use this with the 3rd conditional. Here are two examples:

  • I could have got into any university in the word if I had applied.
  • I could have picked up some milk if you had told me that you needed some.

Would Have

Speaking of conditionals, we mainly use would have in the 3rd conditional. I gave an example from the latest episode of The To Fluency Show: If we had planted more trees, we would have had more apples last summer.

Here are more examples:

  • I would have come if you had told me earlier.
  • If I had gone to Oxford University, I would have hated it.
  • If Messi had scored, Barcelona would have won.
  • I would have gone to the wedding, but my son got sick.

Contractions and Pronunciation

In spoken English, you’ll often hear the following:

Should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve.

This also gets contracted to the following:

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

For example, I shoulda told you.

What to Do Now:

Leave a comment below using one of the modal verbs that you’ve just learned. And then, download your free book!

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