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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #106729: Should ( Ought to)
Should ( Ought to)
SHOULD is a modal auxiliary, ( the preterite of shall). It means 'what is correct, proper, what is a good action, or a duty' and is used to express:
1) - moral or friendly ADVICE in the present and the future : for moral advice, it's quite frequent to use ought to + verb. In the United States, 'ought to ' is more often used than in the United Kingdom, whatever nuance you want to express.
With should (or ought to), the subject is submitted to an outside pressure, he's not making his own decisions freely (= constraint ); on the contrary, 'would' often has a tinge of 'will power'.
ex : You should stop smoking as soon as possible !(= You ought to stop smoking! = it would be moral, you'd live longer, in order to take care of your family ...)
2) - Regrets, or reproaches concerning the present ( here too, 'ought to' insists on a moral constraint ). The negative form shouldn't is much more frequent to express reproaches.
ex : He shouldn't drive so fast, especially after being so sick. Let's hope he won't be arrested for DUI. (Driving Under Influence -of drugs, alcohol etc.)
3) - A possibility, a prevision or prediction: = something is likely or expected ...
ex : Federer is the best player of the tournament : he should win quite easily.
4) - In the past : should + have + past participle = expresses opinions about past actions which were unpredictable, desirable, unnecessary. In that case, 'have' is unstressed.
ex : You should have helped him when he needed you.
ex : He shouldn't have lied if he wanted me to trust him ...
5) - In an 'if' clause, 'should' expresses a coincidence, an unlikely hypothesis:
ex : If there should be a delay, I'd want to be warned ! = If there happens to be a delay ...
In very formal conversations or in formal written language, we may use the subject-verb inversion : ex : Should there be a delay, I would like to be warned ...
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