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Home » Modal auxiliary verbs in English » Ought to and should

Ought to and should

Ought to and should are both modal auxiliary verbs that have similar meanings. Let’s take a closer look at these two modal auxiliaries.

Used in the present, future and past. We use ‘ought to’ to express or ascertain what is correct.

  • You ought not to speak so loudly young lad.
  • I ought to make a trip to the United States one day.
  • I really ought to have seen him yesterday. (past = ‘ought to’ + present perfect).

Used for advice or recommendations

  • You ought to learn how to play the violin, you’d be good at it.
  • She oughtn’t to have left her books on the desk.
  • You ought to try some of the fresh apple pie I just made.

Used to express what we like or would like to see happen

  • Lawyers ought to earn more money for all the hours that they put in.
  • I ought to see my father at some point.
  • Older people oughtn’t to be sent to a retirement home.
verbos en ingles

This modal auxiliary is used to express obligation (obligation of a lesser degree than ‘must’ or ‘need to’). 

  • You shouldn’t go to town dressed like that Jimmy.
  • I should really do my taxes at some point.
  • They should always wait and look both ways before crossing the road.

We use should to express duty

  • People should always be careful with their belongings.
  • You should get up early every morning if you want to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • You should be the commander-in-chief.

We use should for deduction

  • If we’re lucky we should win the race in no time.
  • I should be able to come to the party tomorrow around 18h if that’s okay?
  • Our colleague isn’t here yet, but he should be arriving shortly.

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