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Must of (must’ve)

The usually nonsensical phrase must of comes from a mishearing of must’ve, the contraction of must have.

The error is surprisingly common and appears even in edited writing—for example:

[A] far cry from the days the journey must of taken in Harry Carter’s time. [Guardian]

One has to wonder how many drinks this man must of had to try and flirt with the wife of a 7-foot, heavily built monster of a man. [Los Angeles Times]

Kendall must of used his time wisely as his under-3 ERA is a vast improvement over the 12.46 ERA he had in the Gulf Coast League. [Bluefield Daily Telegraph]

Though these examples come from publications that are both online and in print, the error seems particularly common in web writing.

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In rare instance, must of can make sense—for example:

Policy on Zimbabwe must of necessity be subservient to this greater goal. [The Age]

But most of the time, must of is just a misspelling of must’ve.

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Comments

  1. Mike Moore says:

    Why then, does my spellchexk consider must’ve wrong… I’m using OpenOffice to write, and I think it might just be an error with their software…. THANK YOU for verifying this for me :)

    • Spell checkers do not include every word in the dictionary, which is why they (typically) have a function: “add to dictionary.” Even though I knew “must’ve” was a correct spelling, my Chrome built-in checker gave me the red squiggly, so I right clicked it and went to “search Google for…” and verified it, which led me to this discussion.

    • OpenOffice is dumb as balls then. XD
      It’s a shame people don’t remember basic stuff they learned in elementary school….and obviously had to continue to use throughout middle school AND high school. X____X

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