i am attempting to explain the difference between could of and could have and really don't know if i am explaining it correctly or not.

My example is: I could of picked up the praying mantis to observe it, but that might of hurt the mantis.

I believe that is incorrect and corrected I have: I could have picked up the praying mantic to observe it, but that might have hurt the mantis.

Could someone check this and make sure I am doing this correctly? Any explanation would be greatly appreciated!!!
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Comments  (Page 3) 
AnonymousSpeaking to others, I learned that the incorrect way is being taught as proper grammar by some teachers.
Says who? And where are those teachers from?

I was taught to always use "have". Which is why I felt a little confused when I went to England and learned that the natives would use "of" rather than "have" in written language. I found it unlikely that they didn't know their own language so I never mentioned it, just assumed it was something they did on purpose. But I guess I might of (sorry I had to!!) been wrong. Maybe they really don't know their grammar :]

"the noun preceded by it's preposition"

Quite apart from the lack of a capital letter following the full stop, the 'it's' should be 'its'. In other words the sentence reads 'it is' and is not possessive.

It's its not it's... (if that helps!!)
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Many make this error when they are actually attempting to write the contraction could've, would've, should've, and incorrectly use of instead of 've.
Simple answer is "could of" is just plain incorrect. As is "would of", "should of".