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I Could of Danced All Night

Updated: Apr 3

I Could of Danced All Night

”I Could of Danced All Night” —TikTok Post

“We could of had him; we should of had him; but we let Bin Laden get away.” A Commentary 

Yikes! What’s happening to our language?

First, some background: Lyricist Alan Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe joined forces to create the Broadway hit My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews. The 1956 play won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It also set a record for longest run on Broadway up to that time.

Based on the 1938 film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady delights anyone who relishes the English language. Professor Henry Higgins and phonetics expert Colonel Hugh Pickering pluck flower girl Eliza Doolittle with a strong Cockney accent from the Covent Garden vegetable market and set out to teach her to speak “proper English.” Their goal: to pass her off as a duchess at an embassy ball.

In 1964, Harrison joined with Audrey Hepburn (replacing Julie Andrews) to star in the movie version of the play. It garnered eight Academy Awards, include Best Picture and Best Actor. Marni Nixon supplied the soprano voice for Miss Hepburn, as she did for Deborah Kerr in The Kind and I and Natalie Wood in West Side Story.

My Fair Lady is packed with music still played today: “On the Street Where You Live,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and, of course, “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Listen to Julie Andrews in the Original Broadway Play. Listen to The Notorious Did on TikTok.

Which brings us to the problem treated in today’s Write Better Blog.

We can cure the problem with just a quick toe in the water.

Here's a quick, 90-second discussion._________________________________________________

Toe-in-the-Water Discussion

Today, we tackle another grammatical blunder made by those who write what they hear, not what they read, and certainly not what they study.

In the Write Better Blog titled “Going … Going … Went,” we learned that the helping verb have must always join with the past participle to form what’s called the perfect tense.

Proper examples include:

  • “He has gone to second base.”

  • “The guards have drunk wine.”

  • “We have seen the play.”

Often the helping verb have gets additional help from another helping verb could. We can thus show what might have happened, but didn’t by writing:

  • “He could have gone to second base.”

  • “The guards could have drunk the wine.”

  • “We could have seen the play.”

When someone speaks the words “could have,” they often use the contracted form “could’ve.” Unfortunately, that sounds like “could of.” And thus the many millions of people who write what they hear commit the blunder:

  • “I could of danced all night.”

  • “We could of had him; we should of had him; but we let Bin Laden get away.”

If you listen to the Julie Andrews version linked above, you won’t even here “could’ve” and certainly not “could of.” Actually you’ll hear the perfectly enunciated “I could have danced all night.

To get an idea of how many people make this mistake, just Google® “I could of danced all night.” Or Google® another song title, “It could of been you,” and you’ll freak at the number of people who write “could of” instead of “could have.”

So make sure you never use the word “of” to join a verb to a sentence. The expressions “should of,” “would of,” and “could of” are malapropisms. They should read, “should have,” “would have,” and “could have.”  


Stay Tuned

Visit again soon. In the next Write Better Blog, I’ll review another mistake made by people who confuse words that sound alike.

Their mixing up they’re theres. 😊

—C. Edward Good


Spotify – I Could of Danced All Night


TheNotoriousDid – Singing “I Could of Danced All Night”

Horizons Music – Andre Rieu – Magic of the Musicals

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