How to use SHOULD in English?

Should is a modal auxiliary verb. We often use should in the following situations in English:

  • To offer advice
  • To make recommendations
  • To talk about moral duty, correctness, and obligation
  • To talk about expectations

Examples:

  • You should start doing meditation. It will help you to control your emotions. (advice)
  • You should try the red sauce pasta here; it is heavenly. (strong recommendation)
  • I think the government should close down all the busy markets. (opinion)
  • You should be at your desk right now. (duty)
  • We should receive an email from them by the end of the day. (expectation)
Different uses of Should
Different uses of Should

Structures

Affirmative:

Subjectshouldbase verb (V1)
SubjectshouldV1

Examples:

  • You should go now.
  • I should sleep.

Negative & Interrogative:

Negative:Subject shouldnotV1.
Interrogative:ShouldsubjectV1?

Examples:

  • You should not eat this.
  • She shouldn’t accept the offer
  • Should I invite her?
  • Shouldn’t you be wearing the seat belt?

Should not = shouldn’t

NOTE: There are two more structures that the verb can follow:

Structuressubjectmodal verbauxiliary verbmain verb
Structure 1:subjectshouldbepresent participle (V1+ing)
Structure 2:subjectshouldhavepast participle (V3)

Examples:

  • You should be working on the project.
  • We shouldn’t be laughing at him.
  • You should have listened to her that day.

Let’s understand all the different usages of should.

SHOULD for giving advice & suggestion

We often use should to give and take advice and a suggestion.

Examples:

  • You are amazing at teaching kids. You should apply for a teaching job.
  • They are fighting a lot these days. They should stop seeing each other for some time.
  • You shouldn’t accept their offer; they are trying to lure you with money.
  • What should I order for dinner?
  • They have been chasing me like a dog. What should I do to save my life?
  • My ex-girlfriend just called. What should I do now? 
  • Do you think I should give her a chance?

NOTE: We use ‘probably’ after should to sound more polite while giving advice/suggestion.

  • You should probably call her and apologize for your rude behavior.
  • He should probably leave her and find a better girl.

SHOULD for giving opinions & recommendations

When we give our thoughts or opinions about a situation (what we think is right or someone should do), we usually use should to talk about it.

Examples:

  • Virat should not play in the next match.
  • We should have more hospitals in our country.
  • You should not control his life. Let him do what wants to do.
  • They should fire the guy who stole the company’s data.
  • You should be satisfied with the money being paid to you.
  • You should try the food here. It’s too good.

SHOULD for obligations and moral duties

Should is often used to point out people their moral duties and obligations.

Examples:

  • You should be at your desk, talking to clients. (You aren’t)
  • They should be taking the class right now. (They are not doing that)
  • You should be at the office before 8 am. (You are not.)
  • We should help the ones that need help. (moral duty)
  • We should not lie to our parents. (moral duty)
  • We should finish the work before calling it a day. (moral duty)

Note that the obligation expressed using should is not as strong as must or have to.

SHOULD for talking about likely events

We use should to talk about something that is likely to happen or something we are expecting to happen.

Examples:

  • The results should come out in 20 minutes.
  • He was driving when I called him. He should be here soon.
  • Everyone dressed well for the party. There should be a lot of rich people at the party.
  • I have $40 dollars on me. The food should not cost more than that.
  • Let’s cancel the plan. The tickets should have been sold by now.
  • The train should be at the station in 30 minutes.
  • The market should be crowded today. It’s a holiday.

SHOULD to express something that did not happen but should have

Should is used in type 3 conditional sentence to express. Here, should expresses that someone was expected to do something that he/she did not.

Examples:

  • I should have called you when she came home. (I did not do that in reality)
  • We shouldn’t have listened to him. We got fired because of him. (We did listen to him)
  • Jon shouldn’t have married that girl. I knew she wasn’t right for him. (He did marry her)
  • He shouldn’t have drunk so much last night. He embarrassed all of us. (He drank so much last night.)

SHOULD as IF in a conditional sentence

Should is used just like the conjunction IF in a conditional sentence.

  • Aarushi will take the offer if the offer is right.
    or
  • Aarushi will take the offer should the offer is right.

Examples:

  • I will take him back to work should he apologizes to the girl teased.
  • He will get the title fight next should he wins this fight.
  • Should we not reach the office in time, we are in big trouble.
  • Should you want a refund, please contact our finance team.

Use of shouldn’t

We use ‘should not’ to advise not to do something.

Examples:

  • We shouldn’t leave this job.
  • You shouldn’t hang out with those buys.
  • If you are not excited about this project, you should not be a part of it.
  • You should have told me when they threatened you to kill.

Related video lessons:

Different usages of SHOULD

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