Should - English Grammar


English Grammar - Modal Verbs

Should is a modal verb.

After Should you use the base form of the infinitive (= verb without To e.g. Go instead of To Go)

Should + Verb (base form of infinitive)

e.g. You should go now (do not say: You should to go now.)


1. To give advice, a recommendation or a suggestion

This is to say that it is the right thing to do or the correct thing.

2. Expresses that a situation is likely in the present

3. Expresses that a situation is likely in the future (prediction)

4. Expresses an obligation that is not as strong as Must.

Sometimes Should is used instead of Must to make rules, orders or instructions sound more polite. This may appear more frequently on formal notices or on information sheets.

All of the above example sentences can have must instead of should making the obligation stronger and less polite.

5. Was expected in the past but didn't happen (should + have + past participle)

This expresses the idea that the subject did not fulfill their obligation in the past or did not act responsibly.

6. Not fulfilling an obligation (should + be + verb-ing)

This expresses the idea that the subject is not fulfilling their obligation or is not acting sensibly.

7. Sometimes should is replaced by ought to without a change in meaning. Note that ought to sounds more formal and is used less frequently.


We use shouldn't to advise not to do something, usually because it is bad or wrong to do.

Should Summary Chart

Should - English Modal Verb

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See our notes about other Modal Verbs.

See our English lesson about the Modal Verb SHOULD.

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